Brigham Youi^ University
CHRISTMAS IN LEGEND AND STORY
Edited by ELVA S. SMITH
Cataloguer of Children's Books. Carnegie Library
GOOD OLD STORIES for Boys and Girls
MYSTERY TALES for Boys and Girls
PEACE AND PATRIOTISM
HEROINES OF HISTORY AND LEGEND
MORE MYSTERY TALES for Boys and
A BOOK OF LULLABIES
Edited by ELVA S. SMITH and
ALICE I. HAZELTINE
St. Louis Public Library
CHRISTMAS IN LEGEND AND STORY
The First Christmas Night.
From Painting by Pierrey.
^orxKt aag tl|at rb^r 'gatnat tl|at H^aBon rom^H
Uljrrftn our ^abtour'a btrtlj \b r^kbratrb,
(ill|p birb af hauJtttttg aingdly all ttigljt long :
Anb tljrn, tlyrg sag, no Bptrit barra attr abroab ;
<ill|f ntglyta ar^ inlinlraum^ ; tljpn no plan^ta atrtkf .
No fairy takra, nor wWrli ljatl| potOFr to rl|arm.
^0 Ijalloio'b anb ao grariona ia tl|? ttm^.
<>p^^o o *I2^3^<» ISoIjF^2Lo«<»lSr « I5«S3ao ISLo© oE^a«E2o B^Snio o o B?53^«
ABOOKKR BOYS AND GIRLS.
ELm S. SMITH
AUCE 1. HAZELTINE
LOTHROP, LEE 8.SHEPARD CO..
0^^2223 ittttBT o'E&FSSS'o«o'EII.oSS;SL'>oo"^SL««o'E2^2loEaLoo o ES^l^glo V////J GSS371SI0.
First Printing, July, 1915.
Second Printing, November, 1915.
Third Printing, December, 1915.
Fourth Printing, September, 1917.
Published, August, 1915.
COPTKIGHT, 1916, BY LOTHROP, LeE & ShEPARD Co.
All Bights Reserved
Ghbisthas in LsasNo Ain> Stobt
In our experience in library work with chil-
dren we have learned that it is very difficult
to find Christmas stories and legends which
have literary merit, are reverent in spirit, and
are also suitable for children. This collection
has been made in an endeavor to meet this need,
and thus to be of service to parents, teachers,
Most of the stories and poems in this book
are of the legendary type. They have been
chosen from a wide variety of sources and
represent the work of many writers. There are
other stories also, which, although not strictly
traditional, have the same reverent spirit and
illustrate traditional beliefs and customs.
These have been included for their literary
value and their interest for young people.
In the arrangement of the selections we have
followed the natural order of the events in
preference to grouping the stories for boys and
girls of different ages.
Although no attempt has been made to adapt
the legends for story-telling, most of them may-
be used for that purpose. Many of the selec-
tions are also well suited for reading aloud.
Above all it is hoped that this book may
bring real joy to the boys and girls for whom
it has been compiled.
Elva S. Smith,
Cataloguer of Children's Books,
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
Alice I. Hazeltine,
Supervisor of Children's Work,
St. Louis Public Library.
The compilers wish to thank Mrs. Margaret
Deland for permission to use ^' The Christmas
Silence ; ' ' Mrs. Etta Austin McDonald for her
adaptation of Coppee's ** Sabot of Little
Wolff " from '' The Child Life Fifth
Eeader; '' Josephine Preston Peabody for
** The Song of a Shepherd-Boy at Bethle-
hem; " Mrs. William Sharp for '' The Chil-
dren of Wind and the Clan of Peace," by
Fiona Macleod ; Nora Archibald Smith and the
editors of the Outlook for ** The Haughty
Aspen; " and the editors of Good Housekeep-
ing Magazine, Little, Brown & Company and
Mrs. Yelma Swanston Howard for her trans-
lation of ^* The Legend of the Christmas
Eose,'' by Selma Lagerlof, taken from Good
Housekeeping Magazine, copyright, 1907.
Copyright, 1910, by Little, Brown & Company.
Thanks are also due to the following pub-
lishers for permission to reprint poems and
stories on which they hold copyright: The
Century Company for four selections from
St. Nicholas, '' The Little Gray Lamb '' by A.
B. Sullivan, '' A Christmas Legend '' by Flor-
ence Scannell, " Felix '' by Evaleen Stein,
** The Child Jesus in the Garden;'' The
Churchman Company for " The Blooming of
the White Thorn'' by Edith M. Thomas;
Doubleday, Page & Company for "• Neighbors
of the Christ Night" by Nora Archibald
Smith; E. P. Button & Company for '' The
Sin of the Prince Bishop " by William Can-
ton; Ginn & Company for '' Christmas Carol "
from '' Open Sesame; " Mr. William Heine-
mann for ^' The Flight into Egypt " by Selma
Lagerlof; Houghton Mifflin Company for
'' The Child Born at Bethlehem " by H. E.
Scudder, ^* The Christmas Song of Csedmon '*
by H. E. G. Pardee, " The Little Mud-Spar-
rows " by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps.
'' St. Christopher of the Gael " and '' The
Cross of the Dumb " are included through the
courtesy of Messrs. Duffield & Company.
From ** Poems and Dramas " by Fiona Mac-
leod, copyright, 1901, 1903, 1907, by Thomas
B. Mosher ; 1910 by Duffield & Company.
The selection ^^ Christmas at Greccio "
from *^ God's Troubadour '' by Sophie Jewett
is included by special arrangement with T. Y.
Crowell Company. ^* The Little Friend '' by
Abbie Farwell Brown, ^^ Christmas Hymn "
by E. W. Gilder, '' The Three Kings '' by H.
W. Longfellow, and ^* The Star Bearer '' by
E. C. Stedman are included by special arrange-
ment with Houghton MifBin Company; and
^* The Three Kings of Cologne " by Eugene
Field, and ^* Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve "
by H. H. Boyesen, by special arrangement with
Charles Scribner's Sons.
The story of St. Christopher is taken chiefly
from the ^* Golden Legend," but a few sug-
gestions for its adaptation were obtained from
a version by Olive Logan.
"-The Gracious Time"
The Adoration of the Shepherds
St. Luke, II, 1-16
The Child Born at Bethlehem
Horace Elisha Scudder
As Joseph Was A - Walking ,
Old English Carol
The Peaceful Night
The Christmas Silence .
Neighbors of the Christ Night
Nora Archibald Smith
From the Neapolitan
A Christmas Hymn
Richard Watson Gilder
The Song of a Shepherd -Boy at Bethle
Josephine Preston Peabody
The First Christmas Roses .
Adapted from an Old Legend
The Little Gray Lamb .
Archibald Berbsford Sullivan
The Holy Night
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Star Bearer
Edmund Clarence Stedman
The Visit of the Wise Men .
St. Matthew, II, 1-12
The Tiikee Kings
Henry Wadswobth Longfellow
The Three Holy Kings ....
Adapted from the Golden Legend, and Other
The Three Kings of Cologne
The Flight Into Egypt ....
The Haughty Aspen . , . .
Nora Archibald Smith
The Little Mud - Sparrows
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
The Children of Wind and the Clan of
The Child Jesus in the Garden .
The Mystic Thorn
Adapted from Traditional Sources
The Blooming of the White Thorn
Edith Matilda Thomas
Legend of St. Christopher
Adapted from the Golden Legend
St. Christopher of the Gael
The Cross of the Dumb
The Christmas Song of C^edmon
H. E. G. Pardee
Good King Wenceslas ....
John Mason Neale
The Christmas at Greccio: A Story of St
The Sin of the Prince Bishop
Eael Sigurd's Christmas Eve . . . 16.0
Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen
A Christmas Legend ...... 172 •
The Legend op the Christmas Eose . .175
Selma LagerlOf *■ — -
^ F^LIX 205
The Sabot of Little Wolff . . . .232
Franco IS Copr:6E
\ 'The Little Friejnt) 240
Abbie Fauwbll Brown
Where Love Is, There God Is Also . . 258
Count Lyof N. Tolstoi
The First Christmas Night
From Painting by Pierrey
The Adoration of the Shepherds
From Painting by Bouguereau
Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Mark
iNG THE Traditional Birthplace of
l^HRIST • « a • • e
The Adoration of the Shepherds
From Painting by Honthorst
The Holy Kight
From Painting by Grass
The Wise Men Guided by the Star
From Painting by Warren
The Adoration of the Kings
From Painting by Pfannschmidt
The Flight into Egypt ...»
From Painting by Bouguereau
Eepose in Egypt
From Painting by Merson
The Christ - Child
From Painting by Winterstein
St. Joseph's Chapel. Glastonbury Abbey
St. Christopher, the Christ - Bearer .
From Painting by Memling
From Painting by Francia
From Painting by Blashfleld
The Star of Bethlehem
From Painting by Piglhein
The Holy Night
From Painting by Feuerstein
LEGEND AND STORY
^^THE GEACIOUS TIME"
AccoEDiNG to tradition, on the Holy Night
there fell upon Bethlehem of Judea a strange
and unnatural calm; the voices of the birds
were hushed, water ceased to flow and the wind
was stilled. But when the child Jesus was
born all nature burst into new life; trees put
forth green leaves, grass sprang up and
bright flowers bloomed. To animals was
granted the power of human speech and the ox
and the ass knelt in their stalls in adoration
of the infant Saviour. Then it was that the
shepherds abiding in the field with their flocks
heard the angels praising God, and kings of
the Orient watching in their ^* far country ''
saw ablaze in the heavens the long-expected
sign. Even in distant Eome there sprang up
a well or fountain which ** ran largely " and
2 Christmas in Legend and Story
the ancient prophetess, Sibyl, looking eastward
from the Capitoline hill heard the angel song
and saw in vision all the wonders of that night.
There are many such traditional tales of the
nativity, of the ^^ star-led wizards '^ and of
the marvels wrought by the boy Christ. They
tell of the bees singing their sweet hymn of
praise to the Lord, of the palm-tree bending
down its branches that the weary travellers
fleeing from the wrath of Herod might be re-
freshed by its fruit, of the juniper which
opened to conceal them and of the sweet-smell-
ing balsam which grew wherever the drops of
moisture fell from the brow of the Boy ^* as
He ran about or toiled in His loving service
for His Mother." Quaint fancies some of
these, perhaps, and not all of them worth pre-
serving; but oftentimes beautiful, and with a
germ of truth.
From the centuries between then and now,
come stories of holy men, of bishops and
peasant-saints, and of brave men who preached
the White Christ to the vikings of the north or
on lona's isle. As in popular belief, with each
returning eve of the nativity the miracles of
the first Christmas happen again, so in these
The Gracious Time
tales the thorn-tree blossoms anew and wonder-
ful roses bloom in the bleak forest.
Other stories tell how on each Christmas eve
the little Christ-child comes again to earth and
wanders through village or town, while lighted
candles are placed in the windows to guide
Him on His way.
These various legends and traditional tales,
which sprang up among the people like flowers
by the wayside and became a part of the life
of the Middle Ages, are still of interest to us
of to-day and have a distinct charm of their
own. And when the childlike faith and beauty
of thought of the finest of these have found ex-
pression in literary form they seem particu-
larly suited for our reading at ** the gracious
THE ADOEATION OF THE SHEPHERDS
St. Luke, II, 1 - 16
And it came to pass in those days, that there
went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that
all the world should be taxed.
And this taxing was first made when Cyre-
nius was governor of Syria.
And all went to be taxed, every one into his
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out
of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the
city of David, which is called Bethlehem; be-
cause he was of the house and lineage of David :
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife,
being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there,
the days were accomplished that she should be
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and
wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid
him in a manger; because there was no room
for them in the inn.
The Adoration of the Shepherds.
From Painting by Bouguereau-
The Adoration of the Shepherds 5
And there were in the same country shep-
herds abiding in the field, keeping watch over
their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon
them, and the glory of the Lord shone round
about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them. Fear not : for,
behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of
David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall
find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a
multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone
away from them into heaven, the shepherds
said one to another. Let us now go even unto
Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to
pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary,
and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
THE CHILD BORN AT BETHLEHEM
Horace Elisha Scuddeb
About six miles to the south of Jerusalem is
the village of Bethlehem, lying along the slope
and on the top of a gray hill, from the steep
eastern end of which one looks over a broad
plain, toward a range of high hills beyond. At
any time, as one drew near the place, coming
from Jerusalem, he would pass by rounded
hills, and now and then cross little ravines with
brooks, sometimes full of water, sometimes
only beds of stone ; and, if it were spring-time,
he would see the hills and valleys covered with
their grass, and sprinkled abundantly with a
great variety of wild flowers, daisies, poppies,
the Star of Bethlehem, tulips and anemones —
a broad sheet of color, of scarlet, white and
green. Perhaps, very long ago, there were
trees also where now there are none; and on
those hills, gray with the stone that peeped out
through the grass, stood the mighty cedars
The Child Born at Bethlehem 7
of Lebanon, stretching out their sweeping
branches, and oaks, sturdy and rich with dark
foliage, green the year round. At any rate,
then, as now, we may believe that there were
vineyards upon the sunny slopes, and we know
that the wind blew over corn-fields covering
the plains that lay between the ranges of hills.
It is of the time long since that we are think-
ing, when there were no massive buildings on
Bethlehem hill, such as are to be seen in
the town as it now appears. Instead, there
were low houses, many of mud and sunburnt
brick, some so poor, doubtless, that the cattle
were stalled, if not in the same room with the
people of the house, yet so near that they could
be heard through the partition, stamping, and
crunching their food. There was an inn there,
also; but we must not think of it as like our
modern public-houses, with a landlord and
servants, where one could have, what he needed
by paying for it. Eather, it was a collection of
buildings for the convenience and accommoda-
tion of travelers, who brought with them what-
ever they required of food, and the means of
preparing it, finding there only shelter and the
roughest conveniences. The larger inns of this
8 Christmas in Legend and Story
sort were built in the form of a great court-
yard surrounded by arcades, in which people
stayed, and kept their goods, if they were
The inn at Bethlehem was not probably one
of these great caravanserais, — as they are
called now in the East, because caravans stop
at them; and it is even possible that the sta-
bles about the inn were simply caves scooped
out of the soft chalk rock, for the country there
has an abundance of these caves used for this
From the hill on which Bethlehem stands,
one can see travelers approaching, and at that
time, long ago, no doubt the people who lived
there saw companies of travelers, on foot or
mounted, coming up to the village. For it was
a busy time in Judea. The Emperor at Eome,
the capital of the world, had ordered a tax to
be laid upon his subjects, and first it had to be
known just who were liable to be taxed. Now-
adays, and in our country, people have their
names taken down at the door of their own
houses, and pay their tax in the town where
they live. But then, in Judea, it was different.
If a man had always lived in one place, and
The Child Born at Bethlehem 9
his parents before him, well and good: there
his name was taken down, and there he was
taxed. But if he was of a family that had left
another place, he went back to the old home,
and there his name was registered. There
were many, it may be, who at this time were
visiting Bethlehem for this purpose.
At least, we know of two amongst these trav-
elers; devout and humble people they were;
Joseph, a carpenter, living in Nazareth, a vil-
lage of Galilee, sixty miles or more to the
northward, and Mary, his wife. Together they
were coming to Bethlehem, for while Nazareth
was now their home, they were sprung from a
family that once lived in Bethlehem, and
though they were now poor and lowly, that
family was the royal family, and King David,
the greatest king that ever sat on the Jewish
throne, was their ancestor. Perhaps, as they
climbed the hill, they thought of Ruth, who had
gleaned in the corn-fields just where they were
passing, and no doubt they thought of Ruth's
great-grandson. King David, who was born
here, and here kept his father 's sheep, — such
sheep as even now they could see on the hill-
sides, watched by the watching shepherds.
10 Christmas in Legend and Story
They came, like the rest, to the caravanserai,
but found it already filled with travelers.
They could not have room with other men and
women, and yet there was shelter to be had,
for the place where the horses and beasts of
burden stood was not all taken up. It may be
that many of those now occupying the inn had
come on Joseph's errand, and, not being mer-
chants, had come unattended by the beasts that
bore the goods of merchants, who were there
occupying the inn; and what were they there
for! We can only guess. All is forgotten of
that gathering; men remember only the two
travelers from Nazareth who could find no
room in the inn, and made their resting-place
by a manger.
For there, away from the crowd, was born
to Mary a child, whom she wrapped in swad-
dling-clothes and laid in the manger. She was
away from home; she was not even in a
friend's house, nor yet in the inn; the Lord
God had made ready a crib for the babe in the
feeding-place of cattle. What gathering of
friends could there be to rejoice over a child
born in this solitary place?
Yet there were some, friends of the child and
The Child Born at Bethlehem 11
of the child's mother, who welcomed its birth
with great rejoicing. It may be that when
Mary was laying Him upon His first hard
earthly resting-place, there was, not far off,
such a sight as never before was seen on earth.
On the hilly slopes about Bethlehem were
flocks of sheep that, day and night, cropped the
grass, watched by shepherds, just as, so long
before, young David, in the same place, had
watched his father's sheep. These shepherds
were devout men, who sang, we may easily
believe, the songs which the shepherd David
had taught them; and now, in the night-time,
on the quiet slopes, as they kept guard over
their flocks, out of the darkness appeared a
heavenly visitor: whence he came they knew
not, but round about him was a brightness
which they knew could be no other than the
brightness of His presence which God cast
about His messengers. Great fear fell upon
them — for who of mortals could stand before
the heavenly beings? But the angel, quick to
see their fear, spoke in words which were the
words of men and fell in peaceful accents : —
^* Fear not! " said he, ^' for see, I bring you
glad tidings of a great joy that shall be to all
12 Christmas in Legend and Story
the people. For there has been born to you,
this very day, a Saviour, who is the Holy Lord,
born in the city of David ; and this shall be its
sign to you: ye shall find a child wrapped in
swaddling-clothes lying in a manger.''
And now, suddenly, before they could speak
to the heavenly messenger, they saw, not him
alone, but the place full of the like heavenly
beings. A multitude was there ; they came not
as if from some distant place, but as angels
that ever stood round these shepherds. The
eyes of the men were opened, and they saw,
besides the grassy slopes and feeding sheep,
and distant Bethlehem, and the stars above, a
host of angels. Their ears were opened, and
besides the moving sheep and rustling boughs,
they heard from this great army of heavenly
beings a song, rising to God and falling like a
blessing upon the sleeping world : —
** Glory to God in the highest
And on earth peace,
Good will to men.''
In the lowly manger, a little child; on the
hillside pasture, a heavenly host singing His
praises ! Then it was once more quiet, and the
The Child Born at Bethlehem 13
darkness was about the shepherds. They
looked at one another and said, — ' ' Let us go,
indeed, to Bethlehem, to see this thing that has
come to pass, which the Lord hath made us
know. ' '
So, in all haste, with the sound of that hymn
of glory in their ears, they left the pasture and
sought the town. They went to the inn, but
they looked not there for the child; where the
mangers were, there they sought Him, and
found Him lying, and by Him Joseph and
Mary. There were others by the new-born
child, some who had doubtless come out from
the inn at hearing of the birth. ^* Whence are
these shepherds'? '' they might have said to
themselves, ** and what has brought them to
this birthplace? ''
To all by the manger, the shepherds, their
minds full of the strange sight they had wit-
nessed, recount the marvel. They tell how one
appeared with such brightness about him as in
old times they had heard gave witness that the
Lord God would speak to His peopl-e; how
their fear at his presence was quieted by his
strange and joyful words; and how, when he
had said, ** Ye shall find a child wrapped in
14 Christmas in Legend and Story
swaddling-clothes, lying in a manger/' they
suddenly were aware of a host of angels round
about them sounding praise, to which God also
Those to whom they told these things were
amazed indeed at the strangeness. What did
the marvel mean, they wondered. They could
know no more than the shepherds had told
them, and as for these men, they went away to
their flocks again, praising God, for now they
too, had seen the child, and it was all true, and
with their human voice they caught up the song
of rejoicing which had fallen from angelic lips.
There was one who heard it all, and we may
think did not say much or ask much, but laid
it away in her heart. It was Mary, and she
had, in the treasure-house where she put away
this wonder, other thoughts and recollections in
company with it. There, in her inmost heart,
she kept the remembrance of a heavenly visitor
who had appeared to her when she was alone,
and had quieted her fear by words that told
her of this coming birth, and filled her soul
with the thought that He whom she should bear
was to have the long-deserted throne and a
kingdom without end. She remembered how.
The Adoration of the Shepherds.
From Painting by Honthorst.
The Child Born at Bethlehem 15
when she visited her cousin Elizabeth, she was
greeted with a psalm of rejoicing that sprang
to the lips of that holy woman, and from her
own heart had come a psalm of response.
And now the child was born — born in the
place of David, yet born to be laid in a manger.
A name had been given it by the angel, and
she called the child Jesns; for Jesus means
Saviour, and ** He shall,*' said the angel,
** save His people from their sins.''
AS JOSEPH WAS A -WALKING
Old English Caeol
As Joseph was a-walking
He heard an angel sing : —
** This night there shall be born
Our heavenly King.
** He neither shall be born
In housen, nor in hall,
Nor in the place of Paradise,
But in an ox's stall.
^^ He neither shall be clothed
In purple nor in pall;
But in the fair, white linen,
That usen babies all.
*' He neither shall be rocked
In silver nor in gold.
But in a wooden cradle
That rocks on the mould.
As Joseph Was A-Walking 17
*' He neither shall be christened
In white wine nor in red,
But with fair spring water
With which we were christened/'
Mary took her baby,
She dressed Him so sweet,
She laid Him in a manger,
All there for to sleep.
As she stood over Him
She heard angels sing,
** bless our dear Saviour,
Our heavenly King.''
THE PEACEFUL NIGHT
But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began.
The winds with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joys to the mild Ocean, —
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the
The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fixed in steadfast gaze.
Bending one way their precious influence;
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light.
Or Lucifer that often warned them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow.
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them
The Holy Night.
From Painting by Grass.
The Peaceful Night 19
Aild, though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame.
As his inferior flame
The new-enlightened world no more should
He saw a greater Sun appear
Than his bright throne or burning axletree
THE CHRISTMAS SILENCE
Hushed are the pigeons cooing low
On dusty rafters of the loft;
And mild-eyed oxen, breathing soft,
Sleep on the fragrant hay below.
Dim shadows in the corner hide;
The glimmering lantern's rays are shed
Where one young lamb just lifts his head,
Then huddles 'gainst his mother's side.
Strange silence tingles in the air;
Through the half-open door a bar
Of light from one low-hanging star
Touches a baby's radiant hair.
No sound: the mother, kneeling, lays
Her cheek against the little face.
Oh human love ! Oh heavenly grace I
'Tis yet in silence that she prays I
The Christmas Silence 21
Ages of silence end to-night;
Then to the long-expectant earth
Glad angels come to greet His birth
In burst of music, love, and light!
NEIGHBORS OF THE CHEIST NIGHT
Nora Archibald Smith
Deep in the shelter of the cave,
The ass with drooping head
Stood weary in the shadow, where
His master's hand had led.
About the manger oxen lay.
Bending a wide-eyed gaze
Upon the little new-born Babe,
Half worship, half amaze.
High in the roof the doves were set,
And cooed there, soft and mild.
Yet not so sweet as, in the hay.
The Mother to her Child.
The gentle cows breathed fragrant breath
To keep Babe Jesns warm.
While loud and clear, o'er hill and dale.
The cocks crowed, * * Christ is born ! ' '
Out in the fields, beneath the stars.
The young lambs sleeping lay,
Neighbors of the Christ Night 23
And dreamed that in the manger slept
Another, white as they.
These were Thy neighbors, Christmas Child;
To Thee their love was given,
For in Thy baby face there shone
The wonder-light of Heaven.
Fkom the Neapolitan
When Christ was born in Bethlehem,
^T was night, but seemed the noon of day;
The stars, whose light
"Was pure and bright.
Shone with unwavering ray;
But one, one glorious star
Guided the Eastern Magi from afar.
Then peace was spread throughout the land;
The lion fed beside the tender lamb;
And with the kid.
To pasture led.
The spotted leopard fed;
In peace, the calf and bear.
The wolf and lamb reposed together there.
As shepherds watched their flocks by night,
An angel, brighter than the sun's own light,
Christmas Carol 25
Appeared in air,
And gently said,
Fear not, — be not afraid,
For lo ! beneath your eyes,
Earth has become a smiling paradise.
A CHRISTMAS HYMN
RiCHAED Watson Gilder
Tell me what is this innumerable throng
Singing in the heavens a loud angelic song?
These are they who come with swift and shin-
From round about the throne of God the Lord
of Light to greet.
Oh, who are these that hasten beneath the
As if with joyful tidings that through the
world shall fly?
The faithful shepherds these, who greatly
When, as they watched their flocks by night,
the heavenly host appeared.
Who are these that follow across the hills of
A star that westward hurries along the fields
A Christmas Hymn 27
Three wise men from the east who myrrh and
To lay them at the feet of him their Lord and
Christ and King.
What babe new-born is this that in a manger
Near on her lowly bed his happy mother lies.
Oh, see the air is shaken with white and
heavenly wings —
This is the Lord of all the earth, this is the
King of kings.
THE SONG OF A SHEPHERD - BOY AT
Josephine Peeston Pea^body
Sleep, Thou little Child of Mary:
Rest Thee now.
Though these hands be rough from shearing
And the plough,
Yet they shall not ever fail Thee,
When the waiting nations hail Thee,
Bringing palms unto their King.
Now — I sing.
Sleep, Thou little Child of Mary,
If Thou wilt but smile upon me,
I will twine
Blossoms for Thy garlanding.
Thou^rt so little to be King,
Not a brier
Shall be left to grieve Thy brow;
Rest Thee now.
Song of a Shepherd-Boy at Bethlehem 29
Sleep, Thou little Child of Mary.
Some fair day
Wilt Thou, as Thou wert a brother,
Over hills and over hollow!
All the lambs will up and follow,
Follow but for love of Thee.
Lov'st Thou me?
Sleep, Thou little Child of Mary;
Eest Thee now.
I that watch am come from sheep-stead
And from plough.
Thou wilt have disdain of me
When Thou'rt lifted, royally,
Very high for all to see:
THE FIEST CHRISTMAS ROSES
Adapted feom an Old Legend
The sun had dropped below the western
hills of Judea, and the stillness of night had
covered the earth. The heavens were illu-
mined only by numberless stars, which shone
the brighter for the darkness of the sky. No
sound was heard but the occasional howl of a
jackal or the bleat of a lamb in the sheepfold.
Inside a tent on the hillside slept the shepherd,
Berachah, and his daughter, Madelon. The
little girl lay restless, — sleeping, waking,
dreaming, until at last she roused herself and
looked about her.
** Father," she whispered, ** oh, my father,
awake. I fear for the sheep."
The shepherd turned himself and reached
for his staff. '* What hearest thou, daughter?
The dogs are asleep. Hast thou been bur-
dened by an evil dream? "
** Nay, but father," she answered, *' seest
The First Christmas Roses 31
thou not the light? Hearest thou not the
Berachah gathered his mantle about him,
rose, looked over the hills toward Bethlehem,
and listened. The olive trees on yonder slope
were casting their shadows in a marvellous
light, unlike daybreak or sunset, or even the
light of the moon. By the camp-fire below on
the hillside the shepherds on watch were
rousing themselves. Berachah waited and
wondered, while Madelon clung to his side.
Suddenly a sound rang out in the stillness.
Madelon pressed still closer.
** It is the voice of an angel, my daughter.
What it means I know not. Neither under-
stand I this light." Berachah fell on his knees
'' Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good
tidings of great joy, which shall be to all
people. For unto you is born this day in the
city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the
Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye
shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling
clothes, lying in a manger."
The voice of the angel died away, and the
air was filled with music. Berachah raised
32 Christmas in Legend and Story
Madelon to her feet. " Ah, daughter/^ said
he, ^* It is the wonder night so long expected.
To us hath it been given to see the sign. It
is the Messiah who hath come, the Messiah,
whose name shall be called Wonderful, Coun-
sellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting
Father, the Prince of Peace. He it is who
shall reign on the throne of David, he it is
who shall redeem Israel."
Slowly up the hillside toiled the shepherds
to the tent of Berachah, their chief, who rose
to greet them eagerly.
'' What think you of the wonder night and
of the sign? '' he queried. ^* Are we not
above all others honored, thus to learn of the
Messiah *s coming? '*
" Yea, and Berachah,'' replied their spokes-
man, Simon, '^ believest thou not that we
should worship the infant King? Let us now
go to Bethlehem, and see this thing which has
come to pass.''
A murmur of protest came from the edge of
the circle, and one or two turned impatiently
away, whispering of duty toward flocks, and
the folly of searching for a new-born baby in
the city of Bethlehem. Hardheaded, practical
The. First Christmas Roses 33
men were these, whose hearts had not been
touched by vision or by song.
The others, however, turned expectantly
toward Berachah, awaiting his decision.
a Truly, ^' said Jude, ** the angel of the Lord
hath given us the sign in order that we might
go to worship Him. How can we then do other-
wise? We shall find Him, as we have heard,
lying in a manger. Let us not tarry, but let
us gather our choicest treasures to lay at His
feet, and set out without delay across the hills
^* Oh, my father," whispered Madelon,
*^ permit me to go with thee.'' Berachah did
not hear her, but turned and bade the men
gather together their gifts.
'' I, too, father? " asked Madelon. Still
Berachah said nothing. Madelon slipped back
into the tent, and throwing her arms around
Melampo, her shepherd dog, whispered in his
Soon the shepherds returned with their
gifts. Simple treasures they were, — a pair
of doves, a fine wool blanket, some eggs, some
honey, some late autumn fruits. Berachah
had searched for the finest of his flock, — a
34 Christmas in Legend and Story
snow-white lamb. Across the hills toward
Bethlehem in the quiet, star-lit night they
journeyed. As they moved silently along, the
snow beneath their feet was changed to grass
and flowers, and the icicles which had dropped
from the trees covered their pathway like
stars in the Milky Way.
Following at a distance, yet close enough to
see them, came Madelon with Melampo at her
heels. Over the hills they travelled on until
Madelon lost sight of their own hillside.
Farther and farther the shepherds went until
they passed David's well, and entered the city.
Berachah led the way.
"" How shall we know! '' whispered Simon.
And the others answered, '' Hush, we must
await the sign.''
When at last they had compassed the cres-
cent of Bethlehem's hills, they halted by an
open doorway at a signal from their leader.
** The manger," they joyfully murmured,
** the manger! We have found the new-born
One by one the shepherds entered. One by
one they fell on their knees. Away in the
shadow stood the little girl, her hand on
The First Christmas Roses 35
Melampo's head. In wonder she gazed while
the shepherds presented their gifts, and were
permitted each to hold for a moment the new-
Melampo, the shepherd dog, crouched on the
ground, as if he too, like the ox and the ass
within, would worship the Child. Madelon
turned toward the darkness weeping. Then,
lifting her face to heaven, she prayed that
God would bless Mother and Baby. Melampo
moved closer to her, dumbly offering his com-
panionship, and, raising his head, seemed to
join in her petition. Once more she looked at
the worshipping circle.
" Alas,'* she grieved, ^^ no gift have I for
the infant Saviour. Would that I had but a
flower to place in His hand.''
Suddenly Melampo stirred by her side, and
as she turned again from the manger she saw
before her an angel, the light from whose
face illumined the darkness, and whose look
of tenderness rested on her tear-stained
^< Why grievest thou, maiden? " asked the
** That I come empty-handed to the cradle
36 Christmas in Legend and Story
of the Saviour, that I bring no gift to greet
Him,'' she murmured.
^* The gift of thine heart, that is the best of
all," answered the angel. '' But that thou
mayst carry something to the manger, see, I
will strike with my staff upon the ground.''
Wonderingly Madelon waited. From the
dry earth wherever the angel's staff had
touched sprang fair, white roses. Timidly she
stretched out her hand toward the nearest
ones. In the light of the angel's smile she
gathered them, until her arms were filled with
flowers. Again she turned toward the man-
ger, and quietly slipped to the circle of kneel-
Closer she crept to the Child, longing, yet
fearing, to offer her gift.
** How shall I know," she pondered,
** whether He will receive this my gift as His
Berachah gazed in amazement at Madelon
and the roses which she held. How came his
child there, his child whom he had left safe on
the hillside? And whence came such flowers!
Truly this was a wonder night.
Step by step she neared the manger, knelt,
The First Christmas Roses 37
and placed a rose in the Baby's hand. As the
shepherds watched in silence, Mary bent over
her Child, and Madelon waited for a sign.
^^ Will He accept them! '' she questioned.
^^ How, oh, how shall I know? '' As she
prayed in humble silence, the Baby's eyes
opened slowly, and over His face spread a
^/ THE LITTLE GEAY LAMB
Aechibald Beresfoed Sullivan-
Out on the endless purple hills, deep in the
clasp of somber night,
The shepherds guarded their weary ones —
guarded their flocks of cloudy white,
That like a snowdrift in silence lay.
Save one little lamb with its fleece of gray.
Out on the hillside all alone, gazing afar with
The little gray lamb prayed soft and low, its
weary face to the starry skies:
** moon of the heavens so fair, so bright.
Give me — oh, give me — a fleece of white ! ' '
No answer came from the dome of blue, nor
comfort lurked in the cypress-trees;
But faint came a whisper borne along on the
scented wings of the passing breeze:
'* Little gray lamb that prays this night,
I cannot give thee a fleece of white."
The Little Gray Lamb 39
Then the little gray lamb of the sleej)less eyes
pray;ed to the clouds for a coat of snpw,
Asked of the roses, besought the woods; but
each gave answer sad and low:
** Little gray lamb that prays this night,
'VK^L cannot give thee a fleece of white/'
l^ Like a gena unlocked from a casket dark, like
an ocean pearl from its bed of blue.
Came, softly stealing the clouds between, a
wonderful sjax which bri^ter grew
Until it flamed like the sun by day
Over the place where Jesus lay.
Ere hushed were the angels' notes of praise
the JQxf^l shepherds/oaa quickly sped
Past rock and shadow, adown the hill, to kneel
at the Saviour's lowly bed;
While, like the spirits of phantom night,
Followed their flocks — their flocks of whitCc
And patiently, longingly, out of the night,
apart from the others, — far apart, —
Came limpjiig and sorrowful, all alone, the
little gray lamb of the weary heart.
Murmuring, ^^ I must bide far away:
I am not worthy — my fleece is gray. ' '
40 Christmas in Legend and Story
And the Christ Child looked upon humbled
pride, at kings bent low on the earthen
But gazed beyond at the saddened heart of the
little gray lamb at the open door;
And he called it up to his manger low and laid
his hand on its wrinkled face,
"While the kings drew golden robes aside to
give to the weary one a place.
And the fleece of the little gray lamb was
For, lo! it was whiter than all the rest!
In many cathedrals grand and dim, whose win-
dows glimmer with pane and lens.
Mid the odor of incense raised in prayer, hal-
lowed about with last amens.
The infant Saviour is pictured fair, with
kneeling Magi wise and old,
But his baby-hand rests — not on the gifts, the
myrrh, the frankincense, the gold —
But on the head, with a heavenly light.
Of the little gray lamb that was changed to
THE HOLY NIGHT
Elizabeth Babeett Beowning
We sate among the stalls at Bethlehem;
The dumb kine from their fodder turning
Softened their horned faces
To almost human gazes
Toward the newly Born:
The simple shepherds from the star-lit brooks
Brought visionary looks,
As yet in their astonied hearing rung
The strange sweet angel-tongue:
The magi of the East, in sandals worn,
Knelt reverent, sweeping round.
With long pale beards, their gifts upon
The incense, myrrh, and gold
These baby hands were impotent to hold:
So let all earthlies and celestials wait
Upon thy royal state.
Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!
THE STAE BEAEER
Edmund Clarence Stedman
There were seven angels erst that spanned
Heaven's roadway out through space,
Lighting with stars, by God's command,
The fringe of that high place
Whence plumed beings in their joy,
The servitors His thoughts employ.
Fly ceaselessly. No goodlier band
Looked upward to His face.
There, on bright hovering wings that tire
Never, they rested mute.
Nor of far journeys had desire,
Nor of the deathless fruit;
For in and through each angel soul
All waves of life and knowledge roll.
Even as to nadir streamed the fire
Of their torches resolute.
The Star Bearer 43
They lighted MichaePs outpost through
Where fly the armored brood,
And the wintry Earth their omens knew
Of Spring's beatitude;
Rude folk, ere yet the promise came,
Gave to their orbs a heathen name.
Saying how steadfast in men's view
The watchful Pleiads stood.
All in the solstice of the year.
When the sun apace must turn.
The seven bright angels 'gan to hear
Heaven's twin gates outward yearn:
Forth with its light and minstrelsy
A lordly troop came speeding by.
And joyed to see each cresset sphere
So gloriously burn.
Staying his fearless passage then
The Captain of that host
Spake with strong voice: '' We bear to men
God's gift the uttermost.
Whereof the oracle and sign
Sibyl and sages may divine:
A star shall blazon in their ken.
Borne with us from your post.
44 Christmas in Legend and Story
'' This night the Heir of Heaven's throne
A new-born mortal lies!
Since Earth's first morning hath not shone
Such joy in seraph eyes.''
He spake. The least in honor there
Answered with longing like a prayer, —
** My star, albeit thenceforth unknown,
Shall light for you Earth's skies."
Onward the blessed legion swept,
That angel at the head;
(Where seven of old their station kept
There are six that shine instead.)
Straight hitherward came troop and star;
Like some celestial bird afar
Into Earth's night the cohort leapt
With beauteous wings outspread.
Dazzling the East beneath it there,
The Star gave out its rays :
Eight through the still Judean air
The shepherds see it blaze, —
They see the plume-borne heavenly throng.
And hear a burst of that high song
Of which in Paradise aware
Saints count their years but days.
The, Star Bearer 45
For they sang such music as, I deem,
In God's chief court of joys.
Had stayed the flow of the crystal stream
And made souls in mid-flight poise ;
They sang of Glory to Him most High,
Of Peace on Earth abidingly,
And of all delights the which, men dream;
Nor sin nor grief alloys.
Breathless the kneeling shepherds heard,
Charmed from their first rude fear.
Nor while that music dwelt had stirred
Were it a month or year:
And Mary Mother drank its flow,
Couched with her Babe divine, — and, lo !
Ere falls the last ecstatic word
Three Holy Kings draw near.
Whenas the star-led shining train
Wheeled from their task complete.
Skyward from over Bethlehem's plain
They sped with rapture fleet;
And the angel of that orient star,
Thenceforth where Heaven's lordliest are.
Stands with a harp, while Christ doth reign,
A seraph near His feet.
THE VISIT OF THE WISE MEN
St. Matthew, II, 1-12
Now when Jesus was born in BetMehem of
Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold,
there came wise men from the east to Jeru-
Saying, Where is he that is born King of
the Jews I for we have seen his star in the
east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things,
he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief
priests and scribes of the people together, he
demanded of them where Christ should be
And they said unto him. In Bethlehem of
Judaea : for thus it is written by the prophet.
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
art not the least among the princes of Judah:
for out of thee shall come a Governor, that
shall rule my people Israel.
The Visit of the Wise Men 4ti
Then Herod, when he had privily called the
wise men, inquired of them diligently what
time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said,
Go and search diligently for the young child;
and when ye have found him, bring me word
again, that I may come and worship him also.
When they had heard the king, they de-
parted; and, lo, the star, which they saw in
the east, went before them, till it came and
stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with
exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house,
they saw the young child with Mary his
mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:
and when they had opened their treasures,
they presented unto him gifts; gold, and
frankincense, and myrrh.
And being warned of God in a dream that
they should not return to Herod, they de-
parted into their own country another way.
THE THREE KINGS
Heney Wadswokth Longfellow
Three Kings came riding from far away,
Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;
Three Wise Men out of the East were they,
And they travelled by night and they slept by
For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful
The star was so beautiful, large, and clear,
That all the other stars of the sky
Became a white mist in the atmosphere,
And by this they knew that the coming was
Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.
Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows,
Three caskets of gold with golden keys;
Their robes were of crimson silk with rows
Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,
Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.
The Three Kings 49
And so the Three Kings rode into the West,
Through the dusk of night, over hill and dell.
And sometimes they nodded with beard on
And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest.
With the people they met at some wayside
** Of the child that is born,'' said Baltasar,
** Good people, I pray you, tell us the news;
For we in the East have seen his star,
And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,
To find and worship the King of the Jews."
And the people answered, ^* You ask in vain;
We know of no king but Herod the Great ! ' '
They thought the Wise Men were men insane,
As they spurred their horses across the plain.
Like riders in haste, and who cannot wait.
And when they came to Jerusalem,
Herod the Great, who had heard this thing.
Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them;
And said, '^ Go down unto Bethlehem,
And bring me tidings of this new king."
50 Christmas in Legend and Story
So they rode away; and the star stood still,
The only one in the gray of morn;
Yes, it stopped, — it stood still of its own free
Eight over Bethlehem on the hill.
The city of David, where Christ was born.
And the Three Kings rode through the gate
and the guard,
Through the silent street, till their horses
And neighed as they entered the great inn-
But the windows were closed, and the doors
And only a light in the stable burned.
And cradled there in the scented hay.
In the air made sweet by the breath of kine,
The little child in the manger lay,
The child, that would be king one day
Of a kingdom not human but divine.
His mother Mary of Nazareth
Sat watching beside his place of rest,
Watching the even flow of his breath.
The Three Kings 51
For the joy of life and the terror of death
Were mingled together in her breast.
They laid their offerings at his feet:
The gold was their tribute to a King,
The frankincense, with its odor sweet,
Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,
The myrrh for the body's burying.
And the mother wondered and bowed her head,
And sat as still as a statue of stone;
Her heart was troubled yet comforted,
Remembering what the Angel had said
Of an endless reign and of David's throne.
Then the Kings rode out of the city gate.
With a clatter of hoofs in proud array;
But they went not back to Herod the Great,
For they knew his malice and feared his hate.
And returned to their homes by another way.
THE THREE HOLY KINGS
Adapted from the Golden Legend, and Other
In a far country, in the days before Jesus
was born in Judea, there were great astrolo-
gers who studied the heavens by night and by
day, for they knew of the prophecy which said
that a star shall be born or spring out of Jacob,
and a man shall arise of the lineage of Israel.
And twelve of them were chosen to take heed,
who every year ascended upon a mountain
which was called the Hill of Victory. Three
days they abode there, and prayed our Lord
that He would show to them the star that
Balaam had said and prophesied.
Now it happened on a time, that they were
there on the day of the Nativity of Jesus
Christ, and a star came over them upon this
mountain, which had the form of a right fair
child, and under his head was a shining cross,
and from this cross came a voice saying: ** To-
day is there born a King in Judea."
The Three Holy Kings 53
Now in Arabia, the land in which the soil is
red with gold, there reigned a king called Mel-
chior. And in Saba, where frankincense flows
from the trees, the king Balthasar ruled. And
in the land where myrrh hangs from the
bushes, the kingdom of Tharsis, reigned a
third king, called Caspar. These three kings
also saw the star and heard the voice, and
they each made ready to go on a journey.
And no one of the three knew that the others
intended thus to make a pilgrimage. And they
gathered together their treasures to present to
the king whom they should seek, and summoned
those who should attend them. So each set out
with a great company and great estate. And
as they journeyed they found the mountains
made level as the plains, while the swollen
rivers became as dry land. And never did
they lose sight of the star, which shined upon
them as the sun, always moving before them
to guide them on their way.
But when they were come within two miles
of Jerusalem, the star disappeared, a heavy
fog arose, and each party halted; Melchior,
as it fell out, taking his stand on Mount
Calvary, Balthasar on the Mount of Olives,
54 Christmas in Legend and Story
and Caspar just between them. And when the
fog cleared away, each was astonished to see
two other great companies besides his own, and
then the kings first discovered that all had
come upon the same errand, and they em-
braced with great joy, and rode together into
And when they came into the city, Herod
and all the people were troubled, because of
their so great company like unto an army.
Then they demanded in what place the King
of the Jews was born, for, said they, ** "We
have seen His star in the Orient, and therefore
we come to worship Him.'' And when Herod
had heard this, he was much troubled, and all
Jerusalem with him. Then Herod called all
the priests of the law, and the doctors, and de^
manded of them where Jesus Christ should be
born. And when he had understood them that
He should be born in Bethlehem, he called the
three kings apart and demanded of them dili-
gently the time that the star appeared to
them. And he said to them that as soon as
they should have found the Child and have
worshipped Him, that they should return and
show it to him, feigning that he would worship
The Three Holy Kings 55
Him also, though he thought that he would
go to slay Him.
And as soon as the kings were entered into
Jerusalem, the sight of the star was taken from
them. But when they were issued out of the
city, the star appeared again and went before
them, until it came above the place in Bethle-
hem where the Child was. And they had jour-
neyed now full thirteen days.
And when they had entered into the place
they worshipped the young Child, and Mary,
His mother. Now the kings had brought great
treasures with them, for it must be known that
all that Alexander the Great left at his death,
and all that the Queen of Sheba gave to King
Solomon, and all that Solomon collected for
the temple, had descended to the three kings
from their ancestors; and all this they had
now brought with them. But when they had
bowed down before the Child, they were filled
with fear and amazement because of the so
great light which was in the place. And they
each offered quickly the first thing that came
to their hands, and forgot all their other gifts.
Melchior offered thirty golden pennies, Baltha-
sar gave frankincense, and Caspar myrrh ; but
56 Christmas in Legend and Story
all else they quite forgot, and only remembered
that they bowed before the Child, and said,
'' Thanks be to God.''
And when they would have stayed to do
honor to the Holy Child, an angel came to them
in a dream, to warn them against Herod, who
would do them harm. So they departed each
to his own country, journeying for two years.
And they preached unto the people, telling
them of the new-born King, and everywhere
upon the temples men placed the figures of a
star, the Child, and a cross.
Now it happened years later that St.
Thomas the Apostle journeyed to the far
country to preach, and that he wondered why
the star was placed upon the temples. Then
the priests in those temples told him about the
three kings and how they had journeyed to
Bethlehem and had seen the young Child.
And the three kings were very old and fee-
ble, but when they heard about St. Thomas,
each set out from his own place to go to
meet him. And when they had come together
they builded them a city, and lived together
there for two years, worshipping God and
The Adoration of the Kings.
From Painting by Pfannschmidt.
The Three Holy Kings 67
preaching. Then Melchior died, and was
buried in a large and costly tomb. And when
Balthasar died, he, too, was buried there.
And at last Caspar was placed beside his com-
Now in the days of Constantine the Great,
his mother Helena determined to find the bod-
ies of the three kings, and for this she made
a journey to the far country. And when she
had found them, she brought them to Constan-
tinople to the Church of St. Sophia, where
they were held in much honor. And from Con-
stantinople they were taken to Milan, where
again many pilgrims came. Now when Fred-
erick Barbarossa laid siege to the city of
Milan, he rejoiced above all else to find them
there. And by him they were taken to Co-
logne, and there a golden shrine was built in
which the bones of the three holy kings were
placed that there they might remain until the
THE THREE KINGS OP COLOGNE
Fkom out Cologiie there came three kings
To worship Jesus Christ, their King.
To Him they sought fine herbs they brought,
And many a beauteous golden thing;
They brought their gifts to Bethlehem
And in that manger set them down.
Then spake the first king, and he said :
^^ Child, most heavenly, bright, and fair!
I bring this crown to Bethlehem town
For Thee, and only Thee, to wear;
So give a heavenly crown to me
When I shall come at last to Thee! *'
The second, then. ** I bring Thee here
This royal robe, Child! " he cried;
** Of silk ^tis spun, and such an one
There is not in the world beside;
The Three Kings of Cologne 59
So in the day of doom requite
Me with a heavenly robe of white! ''
The third king gave his gift, and quoth:
^^ Spikenard and myrrh to Thee I bring,
And with these twain would I most fain
Anoint the body of my King;
So may their incense sometime rise
To plead for me in yonder skies! ''
Thus spake the three kings of Cologne,
That gave their gifts and went their way;
And now kneel I in prayer hard by
The cradle of the Child to-day;
Nor crown, nor robe, nor spice I bring
As offering unto Christ, my King.
Yet have I brought a gift the Child
May not despise, however small;
For here I lay my heart to-day,
And it is full of love to all.
Take Thou the poor but loyal thing,
My onfy tribute, Christ, my King!
If you were a Eussian child you would not
watch to see Santa Klaus come down the chim-
ney; but you would stand by the windows to
catch a peep at poor Babouscka as she hurries
Who is Babouscka? Is she Santa Klaus'
No, indeed. She is only a poor little crooked
wrinkled old woman, who comes at Christmas
time into everybody's house, who peeps into
every cradle, turns back every coverlid, drops
a tear on the baby's white pillow, and goes
away very sorrowful.
And not only at Christmas time, but
through all the cold winter, and especially in
March, when the wind blows loud, and whistles
and howls and dies away like a sigh, the Eus-
sian children hear the rustling step of the
Babouscka. She is always in a hurry. One
Hears her running fast along the crowded
streets and over the quiet country fields. She
seems to be out of breath and tired, yet she
Whom is she trying to overtake?
She scarcely looks at the little children as
they press their rosy faces against the window
pane and whisper to each other, *^ Is the Ba-
bouscka looking for us? ''
No, she will not stop; only on Christmas
eve will she come up-stairs into the nursery
and give each little one a present. You must
not think she leaves handsome gifts such as
Santa Klaus brings for you. She does not
bring bicycles to the boys or French dolls to
the girls. She does not come in a gay little
sleigh drawn by reindeer, but hobbling along
on foot, and she leans on a crutch. She has
her old apron filled with candy and cheap toys,
and the children all love her dearly. They
watch to see her come, and when one hears
a rustling, he cries, * * Lo ! the Babouscka ! ' '
then all others look, but one must turn one's
head very quickly or she vanishes. I never
saw her myself.
Best of all, she loves little babies, and often,
62 Christmas in Legend and Story
when the tired mothers sleep, she bends over
their cradles, puts her brown, wrinkled face
close down to the pillow and looks very sharply.
What is she looking forf
Ah, that you can't guess unless you know
her sad story.
Long, long ago, a great many yesterdays
ago, the Babouscka, who was even then an old
woman, was busy sweeping her little hut. She
lived in the coldest corner of cold Eussia, and
she lived alone in a lonely place where four
wide roads met. These roads were at this
time white with snow, for it was winter time.
In the summer, when the fields were full of
flowers and the air full of sunshine and sing-
ing birds, Babouscka 's home did not seem so
very quiet; but in the winter, with only the
snow-flakes and the shy snow-birds and the
loud wind for company, the little old woman
felt very cheerless. But she was a busy old
woman, and as it was already twilight, and
her home but half swept, she felt in a great
hurry to finish her work before bed-time. You
must know the Babouscka was poor and could
not afford to do her work by candle-light.
Presently, down the widest and the lonesom-
est of the white roads, there appeared a long
train of people coming. They were walking
slowly, and seemed to be asking each other
questions as to which way they should take.
As the procession came nearer, and finally
stopped outside the little hut, Babouscka was
frightened at the splendor. There were Three
Kings, with crowns on their heads, and the
jewels on the Kings* breastplates sparkled like
sunlight. Their heavy fur cloaks were white
with the falling snow-flakes, and the queer
humpy camels on which they rode looked white
as milk in the snow-storm. The harness on
the camels was decorated with gold, and plates
of silver adorned the saddles. The saddle-
cloths were of the richest Eastern stuffs, and
all the servants had the dark eyes and hair
of an Eastern people.
The slaves carried heavy loads on their
backs, and each of the Three Kings carried
a present. One carried a beautiful transpar-
ent jar, and in the fading light Babouscka
could see in it a golden liquid which she knew
from its color must be myrrh. Another had in
his hand a richly woven bag, and it seemed to
be heavy, as indeed it was, for it was full of
64 Christmas in Legend and Story
gold. The third had a stone vase in his hand,
and from the rich perfume which filled the
snowy air, one could guess the vase to have
been filled with incense.
Babouscka was terribly frightened, so she
hid herself in her hut, and let the servants
knock a long time at her door before she dared
open it and answer their questions as to the
road they should take to a far-away town.
You know she had never studied a geography
lesson in her life, was old and stupid and
scared. She knew the way across the fields
to the nearest village, but she knew nothing
else of all the wide world full of cities. The
servants scolded, but the Three Kings spoke
kindly to her, and asked her to accompany
them on their journey that she might show
them the way as far as she knew it. They
told her, in words so simple that she could not
fail to understand, that they had seen a Star .
in the sky and were following it to a little
town where a young Child lay. The snow was
in the sky now, and the Star was lost out of
^^ Who is the Child? '' asked the old woman.
** He is a King, and we go to worship him,"
they answered. '* These presents of gold,
frankincense and myrrh are for Him. When
we find Him we will take the crowns off our
heads and lay them at His feet. Come with
us, Babouscka! "
What do you suppose? Shouldn't you have
thought the poor little woman would have
been glad to leave her desolate home on the
plains to accompany these Kings on their
But the foolish woman shook her head. No,
the night was dark and cheerless, and her little
home was warm and cosy. She looked up into
the sky, and the Star was nowhere to be seen.
Besides, she wanted to put her hut in order —
perhaps she would be ready to go to-morrow.
But the Three Kings could not wait; so when
to-morrow's sun rose they were far ahead on
their journey. It seemed like a dream to poor
Babouscka, for even the tracks of the camels'
feet were covered by the deep white snow.
Everything was the same as usual; and to
make sure that the night's visitors had not
been a fancy, she found her old broom hang-
ing on a peg behind the door, where she had
put it when the servants knocked.
66 Christmas in Legend and Story
Now that the sim was shining, and she re-
membered the glitter of the gold and the smell
of the sweet gums and myrrh, she wished she
had gone with the travellers.
And she thouf lit a great deal abont the little
Baby the Three Kings had gone to worship.
She had no children of her own — nobody
loved her — ah, if she had only gone! The
more she brooded on the thought, the more
miserable she grew, till the very sight of her
home became hateful to her.
It is a dreadful feeling to realize that one
has lost a chance of happiness. There is a
feeling called remorse that can gnaw like a
sharp little tooth. Babouscka felt this little
tooth cut into her heart every time she re-
membered the visit of the Three Kings.
After a while the thought of the Little Child
became her first thought at waking and her last
at night. One day she shut the door of her
house forever, and set out on a long journey.
She had no hope of overtaking the Three
Kings, but she longed to find the Child, that
she too might love and worship Him. She
asked every one she met, and some people
thought her crazy, but others gave her kind
answers. Have you perhaps guessed that the
young Child whom the Three Kings sought
was our Lord himself!
People told Babouscka how He was born in
a manger, and many other things which you
children have learned long ago. These an-
swers puzzled the old dame mightily. She had
but one idea in her ignorant head. The Three
Kings had gone to seek a Baby. She would,
if not too late, seek Him too.
She forgot, I am sure, how many long years
had gone by. She looked in vain for the
Christ-child in His manger-cradle. She spent
all her little savings in toys and candy so as
to make friends with little children, that they
might not run away when she came hobbling
into their nurseries.
Now you know for whom she is sadly seek-
ing when she pushes back the bed-curtains and
bends down over each baby's pillow. Some-
times, when the old grandmother sits nodding
by the fire, and the bigger children sleep in
their beds, old Babouscka comes hobbling into
the room, and whispers softly, ** Is the young
Child here? "
Ah, no ; she has come too late, too late. But
68 Christmas in Legend and Story
the little children know her and love her. Two
thousand years ago she lost the chance of find-
ing Him. Crooked, wrinkled, old, sick and
sorry, she yet lives on, looking into each baby's
face — always disappointed, always seeking.
Will she find Him at last?
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT
Fab away, in a desert in the East, there
grew, many years ago, a palm that was very,
very old, and very, very tall. No one passing
through the desert could help stopping to look
at it, for it was mnch higher than other palms,
and people said of it that it would surely grow
to be higher than the Obelisks and Pyramids.
This great palm, standing in its loneliness,
and looking over the desert, one day saw some-
thing which caused its huge crown of leaves
to wave to and fro with surprise on its slender
stem. On the outskirts of the desert two lonely
persons were wandering. They were still so
far away that even a camel would have looked
no larger than an ant at that distance, but they
were assuredly human beings, two who were
strangers to the desert — for the palm knew
the people of the desert — a man and a woman,
who had neither guide, nor beasts of burden,
nor tent, nor water-bag.
70 Christmas in Legend and Story
'*• Verily/^ said the palm to itself, '^ these
two have come hither to die.''
The palm looked quickly around.
*^ I am surprised,'' it said, " that the lions
have not already gone out to seize their prey.
But I do not see a single one about. Nor do I
see any of the robbers of the desert. But they
are sure to come.
u There awaits them a sevenfold death,"
thought the palm. '' The lions will devour
them, the serpents will sting them, thirst will
consume them, the sand-storm will bury them,
the robbers will kill them, the burning sun will
overcome them, fear will destroy them. ' '
The palm tried to think of something else;
the fate of these two made it sad. But in tho
inuneasurable desert around it there was not a
single thing that the palm had not known and
gazed at for thousands of years. Nothing
could attract its attention. It was again
obliged to think of the two wanderers.
* ' By the drought and the wind ! ' ' said the
palm, invoking the two greatest enemies of
life, ** what is the woman carrying on her arm?
I believe these mad people have a little child
with them! "
The Flight into Egypt 71
The palm, which was long-sighted, as the
aged generally are, saw aright. The woman
carried in her arms a child, that had laid its
head on her hreast and was sleeping.
*^ The child has not even enough clothes on,''
said the palm. ** I see that the mother has
lifted up her skirt and thrown it over it. She
has taken it out of its bed in great haste and
hurried away with it. Now I understand:
these people are fugitives.
^ * But they are mad, all the same, ' ' continued
the palm. '' If they have not an angel to pro-
tect them, they should rather have let their
enemies do their worst than have taken refuge
in the desert. I can imagine how it has all
happened. The man is at work, the child
sleeps in its cradle, the woman has gone to
fetch water. When she has gone a few steps
from the door she sees the enemy approaching.
She rushes, in, seizes the child, calls to the hus-
band that he shall follow her, and runs away.
Since then they have continued their flight the
whole day; they have assuredly not rested a
single moment. Yes, so it has all happened;
but I say all the same, if no angel protects
72 Christmas in Legend and Story
* * They are in such fear that they do not feel
either fatigue or other sufferings, but I read
thirst in their eyes. I think I should know the
face of a thirsty man."
And when the palm began to think about
thirst a fit of trembling went through its high
stem, and the innumerable fronds of its long
leaves curled up as if held over a fire.
' ^ If I were a man, ^ ' it said, ' ' I would never
venture into the desert. He is truly brave
who ventures here without having roots reach-
ing down to the inexhaustible water-veins.
There can be danger even for palms, even for
such a palm as I. Could I advise them, I
would beg them to return. Their enemies
could never be as cruel to them as the desert.
They think perhaps that it is easy to live in
the desert. But I know that even I at times
have had difficulty in keeping alive. I remem-
ber once in my youth when a whirlwind threw
a whole mountain of sand over me I was
nearly choking. If I could die I should have
The palm continued to think aloud, as lonely
old people do.
*^ I hear a wonderful melodious murmur
The Flight into Egypt.
From Painting by Bouguereau.
The Flight into Egypt 73
passing through my crown,'' it said; ^' all the
fronds of my leaves must be moving. I do not
know why the sight of these poor strangers
moves me so. But this sorrowful woman is so
beautiful ! It reminds me of the most wonder-
ful thing that ever happened to me."
And whilst its leaves continued their melo-
dious rustle the palm remembered how once,
long, long ago, a glorious human being had
visited the oasis. It was the Queen of Sheba,
accompanied by the wise King Solomon. The
beautiful Queen was on her way back to her
own country; the King had accompanied her
part of the way, and now they were about to
part. *^ In memory of this moment," said the
Queen, ^^ I now plant a date-kernel in the
earth; and I ordain that from it shall grow
a palm which shall live and grow until a King
is born in Judaea greater than Solomon."
And as she said this she placed the kernel in
the ground, and her tears watered it.
^* How can it be that I should just happen
to think of this to-day? " said the palm. ** Can
it be possible that this woman is so beautiful
that she reminds me of the most beautiful of
all queens, of her at whose bidding I have lived
74 Christmas in Legend and Story
and grown to this very day? I hear my leaves
rustling stronger and stronger/' said the
palm, *^ and it sounds sorrowful, like a death-
song. It is as if they prophesied that some-
one should soon pass away. It is well to know
that it is not meant for me, inasmuch that I
The palm thought that the death-song in its
leaves must be for the two lonely wanderers.
They themselves surely thought that their last
hour was drawing near. One could read it in
their faces when they walked past one of the
skeletons of the camels that lay by the road-
side. One saw it from the glances with which
they watched a couple of vultures flying past.
It could not be otherwise — they must perish.
They had no\7 discovered the palm in the
oasis, and hastened thither to find water. But
when they at last reached it they sank down in
despair, for the well was dried up. The woman,
exhausted, laid down the child, and sat down
crying by the side of the well. The man threw
himself down by her side ; he lay and beat the
ground with his clenched hands. The palm
heard them say to each other that they must
die. It also understood from their conversa-
The Flight into Egypt 75
tion that King Herod had caused all children
of two or three years of age to be killed from
fear that the great expected King in Judaea had
*^ It rustles stronger and stronger in my
leaves," said the palm. *^ These poor fugi-
tives have soon come to their last moment.''
It also heard that they were afraid of the
desert. The man said it would have been bet-
ter to remain and fight the soldiers than to
flee. He said that it would have been an easier
'^ God will surely help us," said the woman.
** We are all alone amongst serpents and
beasts of prey," said the man. '^ We have no
food and no water. How can God help us? "
He tore his clothes in despair and pressed
his face against the earth. He was hopeless,
like a man with a mortal wound in his
The woman sat upright, with her hands
folded upon her knees. But the glances she
cast over the desert spoke of unutterable
The palm heard the sorrowful rustling in
its leaves grow still stronger. The woman had
76 Christmas in Legend and Story
evidently heard it too, for she looked up to the
crown of the tree, and in the same moment she
involuntarily raised her arms.
** Dates, dates! '' she cried.
There was such a longing in her voice, that
the old palm wished it had not been any higher
than the gorse, and that its dates had been as
easy to reach as the red berries of the haw-
thorn. It knew that its crown was full of
clusters of dates, but how could man reach to
such a dazzling height?
The man had already seen that, the dates
being so high, it was impossible to reach them.
He did not even lift his head. He told his
wife that she must not wish for the impos-
But the child, which had crawled about alone
and was playing with sticks and straws, heard
the mother's exclamation. The little one could
probably not understand why his mother
should not have everything she wished for.
As soon as he heard the word *' dates," he
began to look at the tree. He wondered and
pondered how he should get the dates. There
came almost wrinkles on his forehead under
the fair locks. At last a smile passed over his
The. Flight into Egypt 77
face. Now he knew what he would do. He
went to the palm, stroked it with his little
hand, and said in his gentle, childish voice:
'' Bend down, palm. Bend down, palm.''
But what was this, what could this be? The
palm-leaves rustled, as if a hurricane rushed
through them, and shudder upon shudder
passed through the tall stem. And the palm
felt that the little one was the stronger. It
could not resist him.
And with its high stem it bowed down before
the child, as men bow down before princes.
In a mighty arch it lowered itself towards
earth, and at last bowed so low that its great
crown of trembling leaves swept the sand of
The child did not seem to be either fright-
ened or surprised, but with a joyous exclama-
tion it ran and plucked one cluster after an-
other from the crown of the old palm.
When the child had gathered enough, and
the tree was still lying on the earth, he again
went to it, stroked it, and said in his gentlest
** Arise, palm, arise."
And the great tree raised itself silently and
78 Christmas in Legend and Story
obediently on its stem, whilst the leaves
played like harps.
* * Now I know for whom they play the death-
song," the old palm said to itself, when it
again stood erect. ^ ^ It is not for any of these
But the man and woman knelt down on their
knees and praised God.
** Thou hast seen our fear and taken it from
us. Thou art the Mighty One, that bends thje
stem of the palm like a reed. Of whom should
we be afraid when Thy strength protects
Next time a caravan passed through the
desert, one of the travellers saw that the
crown of the great palm had withered.
'* How can that have happened? " said the
traveller. ** Have we not heard that this palm
should not die before it had seen a King
greater than Solomon? "
** Perhaps it has seen Him," answered an-
other wanderer of the desert.
THE HAUGHTY ASPEN
A German Legend
Nora Archibald Smith
As I went through the tangled wood
I heard the Aspen shiver,
'* What dost thou ail, sweet Aspen, say,
Why do thy leaflets quiver? ^'
*^ 'Twas long ago/' the Aspen sighed —
How long is past my knowing —
^^ When Mary Mother rode adown
This wood where I was growing.
Blest Joseph journey 'd by her side,
Upon his good staff resting,
And in her arms the Heav'nly Babe,
Dove of the World, was nesting.
Fair was the mother, shining-fair,
A lily sweetly blowing;
The Babe was but a lily-bud.
Like to his mother showing.
•^ Legend and Story
^ Christmas w ^^S
^ ^ . Tby Master comes
^ tence bent to adore Sita.
^ ''^ Tof all the host
I only, out of aU ^^^^^_
Of bird and tree a ^y ^,,d,
I, haughty, ---'^^^l^,, power.
Kor own my Master P ^^^^^^.^,,d,
. Proud Aspen, q^otu ^.^^
Wilt courtesy deny ^^^ ^^^t,
THE LITTLE MUD-SPAEROWS
Elizabeth Stuabt Phelps
I LIKE that old, kind legend
Not found in Holy Writ,
And wish that John or Matthew
Had made Bible out of it.
But though it is not Gospel,
There is no law to hold
The heart from growing better
That hears the story told: —
How the little Jewish children
Upon a summer day,
Went down across the meadows
With the Child Christ to play.
And in the gold-green valley,
Where low the reed-grass lay,
82 Christmas in Legend and Story
They made them mock mud-sparrows
Out of the meadow clay.
So, when these all were fashioned,
And ranged in rows about,
** Now,'' said the little Jesus,
'' We'll let the birds fly out/'
Then all the happy children
Did call, and coax, and cry —
Each to his own mud-sparrow:
'' Fly, as I bid you! Fly! ''
But earthen were the sparrows,
And earth they did remain.
Though loud the Jewish children
Cried out, and cried again.
Except the one bird only
The little Lord Christ made;
The earth that owned Him Master^
— His earth heard and obeyed.
Softly He leaned and whispered :
'' Fly up to Heaven! Fly! "
And swift, His little sparrow
Went soaring to the sky,
The. Little Mud-Sparrows 83
And silent, all the children
Stood, awestruck, looking on,
Till, deep into the heavens.
The bird of earth had gone.
I like to think, for playmate
We have the Lord Christ still.
And that still above our weakness
He works His mighty will,
That all our little playthings
Of earthen hopes and joys
Shall be, by His commandment,
Changed into heavenly toys.
Our souls are like the sparrows
Imprisoned in the clay.
Bless Him who came to give them wings
Upon a Christmas Day!
THE CHILDEEN OF WIND AND THE
CLAN OF PEACE
I WILL tell this Legend as simply but also
with what beauty I can, because the words of
the old Highland woman, who told it to me, . . .
though simple were beautiful with ancient
We must go back near twenty hundred
years. ... It was in the last month of the
last year of the seven years ' silence and peace :
the seventh year in the mortal life of Jesus the
Christ. It was on the twenty-fifth day of that
month, the day of His holy birth.
It was a still day. The little white flowers
that were called Breaths of Hope and that we
now call Stars of Bethlehem were so hushed in
quiet that the shadows of moths lay on them
like the dark motionless violet in the hearts of
pansies. In the long swards of tender grass
the multitude of the daisies were white as milk
Children of Wind and the Clan of Peace 85
faintly stained with flusht dews fallen from
roses. On the meadows of white poppies were
long shadows blue as the bine lagoons of the
sky among drifting snow-white moors of cloud.
Three white aspens on the pastures were in a
still sleep: their tremulous leaves made no
rustle, though there was a soundless wavering
fall of little dusky shadows, as in the dark
water of a pool where birches lean in the yellow
hour of the frostfire. Upon the pastures were
ewes and lambs sleeping, and yearling kids
opened and closed their onyx eyes among the
garths of white clover.
It was the Sabbath, and Jesus walked alone.
When He came to a little rise in the grass He
turned and looked back at the house where
His parents dwelled. Joseph sat on a bench,
with bent shoulders, and was dreaming with
fixt gaze into the west, as seamen stare across
the interminable wave at the pale green hori-
zons that are like the grassy shores of home.
Mary was standing, dressed in long white rai-
ment, white as a lily, with her right hand
shading her eyes as she looked to the east,
dreaming her dream.
The young Christ sighed, but with the love
86 Christmas in Legend and Story
of all love in His heart. '^ So shall it be till
the day of days,'' He said aloud; *^ even so
shall the hearts of men dwell among shadows
and glories, in the West of passing things:
even so shall that which is immortal turn to
the East and watch for the coming of Joy
through the Gates of LifeV
At the sound of His voice He heard a sudden
noise as of many birds, and turned and looked
beyond the low upland where He stood. A
pool of pure water lay in the hollow, fed by
a ceaseless wellspring, and round it and over
it circled birds whose breasts were grey as
pearl and whose necks shone purple and grass-
green and rose. The noise was of their wings,
for though the birds were beautiful they were
voiceless and dumb as flowers.
At the edge of the pool stood two figures,
whom He knew to be of the angelic world
because of their beauty, but who had on them
the illusion of mortality so that the child did
not know them. But He saw that one was
beautiful as Night, and one beautiful as Morn-
He drew near.
** I have lived seven years," He said, *^ and
Children of Wind and the Clan of Peace 87
I wish to send peace to the far ends of the
world. ' '
^* Tell your secret to the birds,'' said one.
** Tell your secret to the birds," said the
So Jesus called to the birds.
^' Come,'' He cried; and they came.
Seven came flying from the left, from the
side of the angel beautiful as Night. Seven
came flying from the right, from the side of the
angel beautiful as Morning.
To the first He said : ' ' Look into my heart. ' '
But they wheeled about Him, and with new-
found voices mocked, crying, *' How could we
see into your heart that is hidden "... and
mocked and derided, crying, '^ What is Peace!
. . . Leave us alone! Leave us alone! "
So Christ said to them:
*^ I know you for the birds of Ahriman, who
is not beautiful but is Evil. Henceforth ye
shall be black as night, and be children of the
winds. ' '
To the seven other birds which circled about
Him, voiceless, and brushing their wings
against His arms. He cried:
** Look into my heart."
88 Christmas in Legend and Story
And they swerved and hung before Him in
a maze of wings, and looked into His pure
heart: and, as they looked, a soft murmurous
sound came from them, drowsy-sweet, full of
peace : and as they hung there like a breath in
frost they became white as snow.
** Ye are the Doves of the Spirit," said
Christ, *^ and to you I will commit that which
ye have seen. Henceforth shall your plumage
be white and your voices be the voices of
The young Christ turned, for He heard
Mary calling to the sheep and goats, and knew
that dayset was come and that in the valleys
the gloaming was already rising like smoke
from the urns of the twilight. When He
looked back He saw by the pool neither the
Son of Joy nor the Son of Sorrow, but seven
white doves were in the cedar beyond the pool,
cooing in low ecstasy of peace and awaiting
through sleep and dreams the rose-red path-
ways of the dawn. Down the long grey reaches
of the ebbing day He saw seven birds rising
and falling on the wind, black as black water
in caves, black as the darkness of night in old
From Painting by Winterstein.
Children of Wind and the Clan of Peace 89
And that is how the first doves became
white, and how the first crows became black
and were called by a name that means the clan
of darkness, the children of the wind.
THE CHILD JESUS IN THE GAEDEN
Cold was the day, when in a garden bare,
Walked the Child Jesus, wrapt in holy
His brow seemed clouded with a weight of
Calmness and rest from worldly things he
Soon was his presence missed within his home ;
His mother gently marked his every way;
Forth then she came to seek where he did roam.
Full of sweet words his trouble to allay.
Through chilling snow she toiled to reach his
Forcing her way mid branches brown and
Hastening that she his sorrows might divide.
Share all his woe, or calm his gloomy fear.
The. Child Jesus in the Garden 91
Sweet was her face, as o ^er his head she bent,
Longing to melt his look of saddest grief.
With lifted eyes, his ear to her he lent;
Her kindly solace brought his soul reliefo
Then did he smile — a smile of love so deep.
Winter himself grew warm beneath its glow ;
From drooping branches scented blossoms
Up springs the grass; the sealed fountains
Summer and spring did with each other vie,
Offering to Him the fragrance of their store ;
Chanting sweet notes, the birds around him fly.
Wondering why earth had checkered so her
THE MYSTIC THOEN
Adapted from Traditional Sources
Three hawthornes also that groweth in Werall
Do burge and here grene leaves at Christmas
As fresshe as other in May."
It was Christmas day in the year 63. The
autumn colors of red and gold had long since
faded from the hills, and the trees which cov-
ered the island valley of Glastonbury, the
Avalon or Apple-tree isle of the early Britons,
were bare and leafless. The spreading, glass-
like waters encircling it round about gleamed
faintly in the pale afternoon light of the win-
ter's day. The light fell also on the silver
stems of the willows and on the tall flags and
bending reeds and osiers which bordered the
marsh island. Westward the long ranges of
hills running seaward were purple in the dis-
tance and their tops were partly hidden by the
misty white clouds which rested lightly upon
The Mystic Thorn 93
them. To the south rose sharply and abruptly
a high, pointed hill, the tor of Glastonbury.
It was nearing the sunset hour when a little
band of men in pilgrim garb, approaching from
the west and climbing the long, hilly ridge,
came within sight of this ^* isle of rest."
Twelve pilgrims there were in all, in dress and
appearance very unlike the fair-haired Britons
who at that time dwelt in the land. One, he
who led the way, was an old man. His hair
was white and his long, white beard fell upon
his breast, but he was tall and erect and bore
no other signs of age. In his hand he carried
a stout hawthorn staff.
The men were climbing slowly up the hill,
for they were all weary with long travelling.
And here at the summit of the ridge they
stopped to look out over the wooded hills, the
wide-spreading waters and the grassy island
with its leafless thickets of oak and alder.
Sitting down to rest, they spoke one to another
of their long journeying from the far-distant
land of Palestine and of their hope that here
their pilgrimage might have end.
Those who were with him called their leader
Joseph of Arimathea. He it was who had been
94 Christmas in Legend and Story
known among the Jews many years before as
a counsellor, ** a good man, and a just,'' and
who, when the Saviour was crucified on Cal-
vary, had given his sepulchre to receive the
body of the Lord.
From this tomb upon the third day came the
risen Saviour; but the people, thinking that
Joseph had stolen away the body, seized and
imprisoned him in a chamber where there was
no window. They fastened the door and put
a seal upon the lock and placed men before the
door to guard it. Then the priests and the Le-
vites contrived to what death they should put
him; but when they sent for Joseph to be
brought forth he could not be found, though
the seal was still upon the lock and the guard
before the door.
The disciples of Joseph as they gathered
about their fire of an evening often told how,
at night, as he prayed, the prison chamber had
been filled with a light brighter than that of
the sun, and Jesus himself had appeared to
him and had led him forth unharmed to his
own house in Arimathea.
And sometimes they told how, again impris-
oned, he had been fed from the Holy Cup from
The Mystic Thorn 95
which the Saviour had drunk at the ^' last sad
supper with his own '' and in which Joseph
had caught the blood of his Master when he
was on the cross, and how he had been blest
with such heavenly visions that the years
passed and seemed to him as naught.
Now after a certain time he had been re-
leased from prison ; but there were people who
still doubted him and so with his friends,
Lazarus and Mary Magdalene and Philip and
others, he had been driven away from Jeru-
salem. The small vessel, without oars, rud-
der or sail, in which they had been cast adrift
on the Mediterranean, had come at last in
safety to the coast of Gaul. And for many
years since then had Joseph wandered through
the land carrying ever with him two precious
relics, the Holy Grail and '' that same spear
wherewith the Roman pierced the side of
Christ.'' Now at last with a chosen band of
disciples he had reached the little-known island
of the Britons.
Landing from their little boat in the early
morn on this unknown coast, they had knelt
upon the shore while Joseph ** gave blessing
to the God of heaven in a lowly chanted
96 Christmas in Legend and Story
prayer.'* Then, *^ over the brow of the sea-
ward hill *' they had passed, led by an invis-
ible hand and singing as they went. All day
through dark forests and over reedy swamps
they had made their way and now at nightfall,
tired and wayworn, they rested on the ridgy
hill which has ever since been known by the
name of Wearyall.
During the long day's march they had seen
but few of the people of the land and these
had held aloof.
Now, suddenly, the silence was broken by
loud cries and shouts, and groups of the native
Britons, wild and uncouth in appearance, their
half-naked bodies stained blue with woad,
were seen coming from different directions up
the hill. They were armed with spears, hatch-
ets of bronze, and other rude weapons of olden
warfare and, as they came rapidly nearer,
their threatening aspect and menacing cries
startled the pilgrim band. Rising hastily, as
though they would flee, the men looked in ter-
ror, one toward another. Joseph alone
showed no trace of fear and, obedient to a sign
from him, they all knelt in prayer upon the
The Mystic Thorn 97
Then, thrusting his thorny staff into the
ground beside him and raising both hands
toward heaven, Joseph claimed possession of
this new land in the name of his Master,
** * This staff hath borne me long and well,'
Then spake that saint divine,
* Over mountain and over plain,
On quest of the Promise-sign;
For aye let it stand in this western land,
And God do no more to me
If there ring not out from this realm about,
Tihi gloria f Domine.' ''
His voice ceased and the men rose from their
knees, looking expectantly for the heavenly
sign, but ready, if need be, to meet with cour-
age the threatened attack.
But stillness had again settled over the hill.
Only a few rods distant the Britons had
stopped and grouped closely together were
gazing in awestruck silence upon the dry and
withered staff, which had so often aided
Joseph in his wanderings from the Holy
Land. Following their gaze, Joseph and his
companions turned toward it and even as they
did so, behold! A miracle! The staff took
root and grew and, as they watched, they saw
98 Christmas in Legend and Story
it put forth branches and green leaves, fair
buds and milk-white blossoms which filled the
air with their sweet .odor.
For a moment, awed and amazed, all stood
silent. Wondrously had Joseph's prayer been
answered! This was indeed the heavenly
token which had been foretold! Then with
tears of joy all cried out as with one voice,
** Our God is with us! Jesus is with us! ''
Marvelling much at the strange things they
had just seen and heard, the Britons dropped
their weapons and fled in haste from the hill.
Then did Joseph and his disciples go down
across the marsh into the valley and there
they rested undisturbed.
Word of the miracle which had thus been
wrought on Wearyall Hill was brought soon
to Arviragus, the heathen king of the time,
and he welcomed gladly the holy men and
gave them the beautiful vale of Avalon
whereon to live. There they built ** a little
lonely church," with roof of rushes and walls
of woven twigs and ** wattles from the
marsh,'' the first Christian church which had
ever been built in Britain.
There they dwelt for many years, serving
The Mystic Thorn 99
God, fasting and praying, and there Joseph
taught the half-barbarous Britons, who gath-
ered to listen to him, the faith of Christ.
Time passed and the little, low, wattled
church became a great and beautiful abbey.
Many pilgrims there were who came to wor-
ship at the shrine of St. Joseph; to drink
from the holy well which sprang from the foot
of Chalice Hill where the Holy Cup lay buried ;
and to watch the budding of the mystic thorn,
which, year after year, when the snows of
Christmas covered the hills, put forth its holy
blossoms, "' a symbol of God's promise, care
Now long, long afterward there came a time
when there was war in the land and one day
a rough soldier who recked not of its heavenly
origin cut down the sacred tree. Only a flat
stone now marks the place where it once stood
and where Joseph's staff burst into bloom.
But there were other trees which had been
grown from slips of the miraculous thorn and
these, '^ mindful of our Lord " still keep the
sacred birthday and blossom each year on
THE BLOOMING OF THE WHITE
Edith Matilda Thomas
God shield ye, comrades of the road!
And while our way we hold,
List while I tell how it first befell
In the wondrous days of old.
From off the sea, the pilgrims came,
With sea-toil wracked and worn;
The air blew keen, and the frost was sheen.
Upon that wintry morn.
Through Glastonbury street went they;
And ever on, and on.
Till they pass the well of the fairy spell,
And the oak of Avalon.
They hear the rustling leaves and few,
That linger on the bough;
The Blooming of the White Thorn 101
But still they fare through the bitter air,
And climb a hill-slope now.
On Weary- All-Hill their feet they stay
(Full well that Hill ye know) ;
There may they rest, by toil oppressed,
While round them drops the snow.
And one — far gone in age was he —
As snow, his locks were white —
The staff of thorn which he had borne.
Did plant upon that height.
A thorn-stick dry, that pilgrim staff,
He set it in the ground:
And, swift as sight, with blossoms white
The branching staff was crowned !
Each year since then (if sooth men say)
Upon this Blessed Morn,
Who climbs that Hill, may see at will
The flower upon the thorn!
However the wind may drive the sleet.
That thorn will blooming be ;
And some have seen a fair Child lean
From out that blossomed tree!
102 Christmas in Legend and Story
One moment only — then, apace,
Both flower and leaf are shorn;
And, gaunt and chill, on Weary- All-Hill,
There stands an ancient thorn!
God shield ye, comrades of the road —
With grace your spirits fill,
That ye may see the White-thorn tree
A-bloom on Weary- All-Hill !
LEGEND OF ST. CHRISTOPHER
Adapted from the Golden Legend
There was a mighty man of old who dwelt
in the land of Canaan. Large was he and tall
of stature and stronger than any man whom
the world had ever seen. Therefore was he
called Offero, or, ** The Bearer.^' Now he
served the king of Canaan, but he was proud
of his great strength and upon a time it came
in his mind that he would seek the greatest
king who then reigned and him only would he
serve and ebey.
So he travelled from one country to an-
other until at length he came to one where
ruled a powerful king whose fame was great
in all the land.
^* Thou art the conqueror of nations? ''
*' I am," replied the king.
*' Then take me into your service, for I will
serve none but the mightiest of earth."
104 Christmas in Legend and Story
'* That then am I/' returned the king, ** for
truly I fear none.*'
So the king received Offero into his service
and made him to dwell in his court.
But once at eventide a minstrel sang before
the king a merry song in which he named oft
the evil one. And every time that the king
heard the name of Satan he grew pale and
hastily made the sign of the cross upon his
forehead. Offero marvelled thereat and de-
manded of the king the meaning of the sign
and wherefore he thus crossed himself. And
because the king would not tell him Offero
said, ** If thou tell me not, I shall no longer
dwell with thee." Then the king answered,
saying, ^' Always when I hear Satan named,
I fear that he may have power over me and
therefore I make this sign that he harm me
'' Who is Satan? '' asked Offero.
** He is a wicked monarch, '* replied the
king, * * wicked but powerful. * '
^' More powerful than thou art? ''
** Aye, verily.'*
** And fearest thou that he hurt thee! ''
'' That do I, and so do all."
Legend of St. Christopher 106
** Then," cried Offero, ** is lie more miglity
and greater than thou art. I will go seek him.
Henceforth he shall be my master for I would
fain serve the mightiest and the greatest lord
of all the world.''
So Offero departed from the king and
sought Satan. Everywhere he met people who
had given themselves over to his rule and at
last one day as he was crossing a wide desert
he saw a great company of knights approach-
ing. One of them, mounted upon a great black
horse, came to him and demanded whither he
went, and Offero made answer, ** I seek
Satan, for he is mighty, and I would fain serve
Then returned the knight, ** I am he whom
When Offero heard these words he was right
glad and took Satan to be his lord and master.
This king was indeed powerful and a long
time did Offero serve him, but it chanced one
day as they were journeying together they
came to a place where four roads met and in
the midst of the space stood a little cross. As
soon as Satan saw the cross he was afraid and
turned quickly aside and fled toward the desert.
106 Christmas in Legend and Story
Offero followed him marvelling much at the
sight. And after, when they had come back to
the highway they had left, he inquired of
Satan why he was thus troubled and had gone
so far out of his way to avoid the cross. But
Satan answered him not a word.
Then Offero said to him, '' If thou wilt not
tell me, I shall depart from thee straightway
and shall serve thee no more."
*^ Know then,'' said Satan, *^ there was a
man called Christ who suffered on the cross
and whenever I see his sign I am sore afraid
and flee from it, lest he destroy me."
** If then thou art afraid of his sign,"
cried Offero, ** he is greater and more mighty
than thou, and I see well that I have la-
bored in vain, for I have not found the great-
est lord of the world. I will serve thee no
longer. Go thy way alone, for I will go to seek
And when he had long sought and demanded
where he should find Him, he came at length
into a great desert where dwelt a hermit, a
servant of the Christ. The hermit told him
of the Master whom he was seeking and said
to him, ^* This king whom thou dost wish to
Legend of St, Christopher 107
serve is not an earthly ruler and he requir-
eth that thou oft fast and make many pray-
But Offero understood not the meaning of
worship and prayer and he answered, *^ Re-
quire of me some other thing and I shall do it,
hut I know naught of this which thou requir-
Then the hermit said to him, *^ Knowest
thou the river, a day's journey from here,
where there is neither ford nor bridge and
many perish and are lost? Thou art large
and strong. Therefore go thou and dwell by
this river and bear over all who desire to cross
its waters. That is a service which will be
well pleasing to the Christ whom thou desirest
to serve, and sometime, if I mistake not, he
whom thou seekest will come to thee.'^
Offero was right joyful at these words and
answered, ** This service may I well do."
So he hastened to the river and upon its
banks he built himself a little hut of reeds. He
bare a great pole in his hand to sustain him in.
the water and many weary wayfarers did he
help to cross the turbulent stream. So he lived
a long time, bearing over all manner of people
108 Christmas in Legend and Story
without ceasing, and still lie saw nothing of the
Now it happened one night that a storm was
raging and the river was very high. Tired
with his labors, Offero had just flung himself
down on his rude bed to sleep when he heard
the voice of a child which called him and said,
** Oifero, Offero, come out and bear me over.''
Offero arose and went out from his cabin,
but in the darkness he could see no one. And
when he was again in the house, he heard the
same voice and he ran out again and found
no one. A third time he heard the call and
going out once more into the storm, there upon
the river bank he found a fair young child who
besought him in pleading tones, ^ * Wilt thou
not carry me over the river this night, Of-
The strong man gently lifted the child on his
shoulders, took his staff and stepped into the
stream. And the water of the river arose and
swelled more and more and the child was
heavy as lead. And alway as he went farther,
higher and higher swelled the waters and the
child more and more waxed heavy, insomuch
that he feared that they would both be
Legend of St, Christopher 109
drowned. Already his strength was nearly-
gone, but he thought of his Master whom he
had not yet seen, and staying his footsteps
with his palm staff struggled with all his
might to reach the opposite shore. As at last
he climbed the steep bank, suddenly the storm
ceased and the waters calmed.
He set the child down upon the shore, say-
ing, ** Child, thou hast put me in great peril.
Had I carried the whole world on my shoul-
ders, the weight had not been greater. I
might bear no greater burden.^'
** Offero,'' answered the child, ^' Marvel
not, but rejoice; for thou hast borne not only
all the world upon thee, but thou hast borne
him that created and made ail the world upon
thy shoulders. I am Christ the king whom
thou servest in this work. And for a token,
that thou mayst know what I say to be the
truth, set thy staff in the earth by thy house
and thou shalt see in the morning that it shall
bear flowers and fruit.'' With these words the
child vanished from Offerors sight.
But Offero did even as he was bidden and
set his staff in the earth and when he arose
on the morrow, he found it like a palm-tree
110 Christmas in Legend and Story
bearing flowers and leaves and clusters of
dates. Then he knew that it was indeed
Christ whom he had borne through the waters
and he rejoiced that he had found his Master.
From that day he served Christ faithfully and
was no more called Offero, but Christopher,
the Christ bearer.
ST. CHRISTOPHER OF THE GAEL
Behind the wattle-woven house
Nial the Mighty gently crept
From out a screen of ashtree boughs
To where a captive white-robe slept.
Lightly he moved, as though ashamed ;
To right and left he glanced his fears.
Nial the Mighty was he named
Though but an untried youth in years —
But tall he was, as tall as he.
White Dermid of the magic sword,
Or Torcall of the Hebrid Sea
Or great Cuhoolin of the Ford;
Strong as the strongest, too, he was:
As Balor of the Evil Eye;
As Fionn who kept the Ulster Pass
From dawn till blood-flusht sunset sky.
112 Christmas in Legend and Story
Much had he pondered all that day
The mystery of the men who died
On crosses raised along the way,
And perished singing side by side.
Modred the chief had sailed the Moyle,
Had reached lona's guardless-shore,
Had seized the monks when at their toil
And carried northward, bound, a score.
Some he had thrust into the deep,
To see if magic fins would rise :
Some from high rocks he forced to leap.
To see wings fall from out the skies :
Some he had pinned upon tall spears.
Some tossed on shields with brazen clang.
To see if through their blood and tears
Their god would hear the hymns they sang.
But when his oarsmen flung their oars.
And laughed to see across the foam
The glimmer of the highland shores
And smoke-wreaths of the hidden home,
Modred was weary of his sport.
All day he brooded as he strode
St. Christopher of the Gael 113
Betwixt the reef-encircled port
And the oak-grove of the Sacred Road.
At night he bade his warriors raise
Seven crosses where the foamswept strand
Lay still and white beyond the blaze
Of the hundred camp-fires of the land.
The women milked the late-come kye,
The children raced in laughing glee;
Like sheep from out the fold of the sky
Stars leapt and stared at earth and sea.
At times a wild and plaintive air
Made delicate music far away:
A hill-fox barked before its lair :
The white owl hawked its shadowy prey.
But at the rising of the moon
The druids came from grove and glen,
And to the chanting of a rune
Crucified St. Columba's men.
They died in silence side by side,
But first they sang the evening hymn:
By midnight all but one had died,
At dawn he too was grey and grim.
114 Christmas in Legend and Story
One monk alone had Modred kept,
A youth with hair of golden-red,
Who never once had sighed or wept.
Not once had bowed his proud young head.
Broken he lay, and bound with thongs.
Thus had he seen his brothers toss
Like crows transfixed upon great prongs.
Till death crept up each silent cross.
Night grew to dawn, to scarlet morn;
Day waned to firelit, starlit night:
But still with eyes of passionate scorn
He dared the worst of Modred 's might.
When from the wattle-woven house
Nial the Mighty softly stepped.
And peered beneath the ashtree boughs
To where he thought the white-robe slept,
He heard the monk's words rise in prayer.
He heard a hymn's ascending breath —
'' Christy Son of God, to Thee I fare
This night upon the wings of death/'
Nial the Mighty crossed the space.
He waited till the monk had ceased;
St Christopher of the Gael 115
Then, leaning o'er the foam-white face,
He stared upon the dauntless priest.
* ^ Speak low, ' * he said, ^ ^ and tell me this :
Who is the king you hold so great? —
Your eyes are dauntless flames of bliss
Though Modred taunts you with his hate : —
*^ This god or king, is He more strong
Than Modred is? And does He sleep
That thus your death-in-life is long,
And bonds your aching body keep? ''
The monk's eyes stared in NiaPs eyes:
*^ Young giant with a child's white heart,
I see a cross take shape and rise.
And thou upon it nailed art! "
Nial looked back: no cross he saw
Looming from out the dreadful night:
Yet all his soul was filled with awe,
A thundercloud with heart of light.
** Tell me thy name," he said, '^ and why
Thou waitest thus the druid knife.
And carest not to live or die?
Monk, hast thou little care of life? "
116 Christmas in Legend and Story
'' Great care of that I have/^ he said,
And looked at Nial with eyes of fire:
'' My life begins when I am dead,
There only is my heart's desire.''
Nial the Mighty sighed. '' Thy words
Are as the idle froth of foam,
Or clashing of triumphant swords
When Modred brings the foray home.
** My name is Nial: Nial the Strong:
A lad in years, but as you see
More great than heroes of old song
Or any lordly men that be.
** To Modred have I come from far.
O'er many a hill and strath and stream.
To be a mighty sword in war.
And this because I dreamed a dream:
** My dream was that my strength so great
Should serve the greatest king there is:
Modred the Pict thus all men rate,
And so I sought this far-off Liss.
** But if there be a greater yet,
A king or god whom he doth fear,
St. Christopher of the Gael 117
My service he shall no more get,
My strength shall rust no longer here."
The monk's face gladdened. ** Go, now, go;
To Modred go: he sitteth dumb.
And broods on what he fain would know :
And say, ^ King, the Cross is come! '
** Then shall the king arise in wrath,
And bid you go from out his sight.
For if he meet you on his path
He 41 leave you stark and still and white.
*^ Thus shall he show, great king and all.
He fears the glorious Cross of Christ,
And dreads to hear slain voices call
For vengeance on the sacrificed.
** But, Nial, come not here again:
Long before dawn my soul shall be
Beyond the reach of any pain
That Modred dreams to prove on me.
** Go forth thyself at dawn, and say
' This is Christ's holy natal morn.
My king is He from forth this day
When He to save mankind was born ':
118 Christmas in Legend and Story
"' Go forth and seek a lonely place
Where a great river fills the wild;
There bide, and let thy strength be grace,
And wait the Coming of a Child.
^ * A wondrous thing shall then befall :
And when thou seek'st if it be true,
Green leaves along thy staff shall crawl,
With flowers of every lovely hue.''
The monk's face whitened, like sea-foam:
Seaward he stared, and sighed * ^ I go —
Farewell — my Lord Christ calls me home! *'
Nial stooped and saw death's final throe.
An hour before the dawn he rose
And sought out Modred, brooding, dumb;
^* King," he said, " my bond I close.
King Christ I seek: the Cross is come! ''
Swift as a stag's leap from a height
King Modred drew his dreadful sword:
Then as a snow-wraith, silent, white,
He stared and passed without a word.
Before the flush of dawn was red
A druid came to Nial the Great:
St. Christopher of the Gael 119
** The doom of death hath Modred said,
Yet fears this Christ's mysterious hate:
** So get you hence, you giant-thewed man:
Go your own way : come not again :
No more are you of Modred 's clan:
Go now, forthwith, lest you be slain."
Nial went forth with gladsome face ;
No more of Modred 's clan he was:
** Now, now,'' he cried, '' Christ's trail I'll
And nowhere turn, and nowhere pause."
He laughed to think how Modred feared
The wrath of Christ, the monk's white king:
^* A greater than Modred hath appeared.
To Him my sword and strength I bring."
All day, all night, he walked afar :
He saw the moon rise white and still:
The evening and the morning star:
The sunrise burn upon the hill.
He heard the moaning of the seas.
The vast sigh of the sunswept plain.
120 Christmas in Legend and Story
The myriad surge of forest-trees;
Saw dusk and night return again.
At falling of the dusk he stood
Upon a wild and desert land:
Dark fruit he gathered for his food,
Drank water from his hollowed hand,
Cut from an ash a mighty bough
And trimmed and shaped it to the half:
^' Safe in the desert am I now,
With sword,'' he said, '' and with this staff."
The stars came out : Arcturus hung
His ice-blue fire far down the sky :
The Great Bear through the darkness swung:
The Seven Watchers rose on high.
A great moon flooded all the west.
Silence came out of earth and sea
And lay upon the husht world's breast,
And breathed mysteriously.
Three hours Nial walked, three hours and
Then halted when beyond the plain
St Christopher of the Gael 121
He stood upon that river's shore
The dying monk had bid him gain.
A little house he saw: clay- wrought,
Of wattle woven through and through:
Then, all his weariness forgot,
The joy of drowning-sleep he knew.
Three hours he slept, and then he heard
A voice — and yet a voice so low
It might have been a dreaming bird
Safe-nested by the rushing flow.
Almost he slept once more: then. Hush!
Once more he heard above the noise
And tempest of the river's rush
The thin faint words of a child's voice.
" Good Sir, awake from sleep and dream,
Good Sir, come out and carry me
Across this dark and raging stream
Till safe on the other side I be."
Great Nial shivered on his bed:
'* No human creature calls this night,
It is a wild fetch of the dead,"
He thought, and shrunk, and shook with fright.
122 Christmas in Legend and Story
Once more he heard that infant-cry:
'' Gome out, Good Sir, or else I drown —
Gome out. Good Sir, or else I die
And you, too, lose a golden crown/'
** A golden crown '' — so Nial thought —
* * No — no — not thus shall I be ta 'en !
Keep, ghost-of-the-night, your crown gold-
Of sleep and peace I am full fain! "
Once more the windy dark was filled
With lonely cry, with sobbing plaint:
NiaPs heart grew sore, its fear was stilled,
King Christ, he knew, would scorn him faint.
*^ Up, up thou coward, thou sluggard, thou/'
He cried, and sprang from off his bed —
*^ No crown thou seekest for thy brow,
But help for one in pain and dread! "
Out in the wide and lonely dark
No fetch he saw, no shape, no child :
Almost he turned again — but harhl
A song rose o 'er the waters wild :
St Christopher of the Gael 123
A king am I
The' a little Child,
Son of God am I,
Meek and mild,
Because God hath said
Let my cup he full
Of wine and bread.
Come to me
I will not flee.
Is thy heart
Stoop to my Cup,
Drink of the wine:
The wine and the bread,
Are mine —
My Flesh and my Blood!
Throw thy sword in the flood:
Come, shaken heart:
124 Christmas in Legend and Story
Fearful thou art!
Have no more fear —
Lo, I am here,
The little One,
Thy Lord and thy King.
It is I who sing:
Christ, your King, . . .
Be not afraid:
Look, I am Light,
A great star
Seen from afar
In the darkness of night:
I am Light,
Be not afraid ...
Into the deep flood!
Think of the Bread,
The Wine and the Bread
That are my Flesh and Blood,
Cross, cross the Flood,
Sure is the goal . . .
Be not afraid
Be not afraid!
St Christopher of the Gael 125
NiaPs heart was filled with joy and pain:
* * This is my king, my king indeed :
To think that drowned in sleep I've lain
When Christ the Child-God crieth in need! "
Swift from his wattled hut he strode,
Stumbling among the grass and bent,
And, seeking where the river flowed.
Far o^er the dark flood peered and leant:
Then suddenly beside him saw
A little Child all clad in white:
He bowed his head in love and awe,
Then lifted high his burthen light.
High on his shoulders sat the Child,
While with strong limbs he fared among
The rushing waters black and wild
And where the fiercest currents swung.
The waters rose more high, more high.
Higher and higher every yard . . .
Nial stumbled on with sob and sigh,
Christ heard him panting sore and hard.
*' Child," Nial cried, ^* forbear, forbear I
Hark you not how these waters whirled !
126 Christmas in Legend and Story
The weight of all the earth I bear,
The weary weight of all the world! "
'' Christopher! ^' . . . low above the noise,
The rush, the darkness, Nial heard
The far-off music of a Voice
That said all things in saying one word —
'^ Christopher . . . this thy name shall he!
Christ-hearer is thy name, even so
Because of service done to me
Heavy with weight of the world's woe J*
With breaking sobs, with panting breath
Christopher grasped a bent-held dune,
Then with flung staff and as in death
Forward he fell in a heavy swoon.
All night he lay in silence there.
But safe from reach of surging tide:
White angels had him in their care,
Christ healed and watched him side by side.
When all the silver wings of dawn
Had waved above the rose-flusht east,
Christopher woke . . . his dream was gone.
The angelic songs had ceased.
St Christopher of the Gael 127
Was it a dream in very deed,
He wondered, broken, trembling, dazed!
His staff he lifted from the mead
And as an .upright sapling raised.
Lo, it was as the monk had said —
If he would prove the vision true,
His staff would blossom to its head
With flowers of every lovely hue.
Christopher bowed: before his eyes
Christ's love fulfilled the holy hour. . . .
A south-wind blew, green leaves did rise
And the staff bloomed a myriad flower !
Christopher bowed in holy prayer.
While Christ's love fell like healing dew:
God's father-hand was on him there:
The peace of perfect peace he knew.
THE CROSS OF THE DUMB
A Christmas on lona, Long, Long Ago
One eve, when St. Columba strode
In solemn mood along the shore,
He met an angel on the road
Who but a poor man's semblance bore.
He wondered much, the holy saint.
What stranger sought the lonely isle,
But seeing him weary and wan and faint
St. Colum hailed him with a smile.
** Remote our lone lona lies
Here in the grey and windswept sea.
And few are they whom my old eyes
Behold as pilgrims bowing the knee. . . .
But welcome . . . welcome . . . stranger-
And come with me and you shall find
The Cross of the Dumb 129
A warm and deer-skinn'd cell for rest
And at our board a welcome kind. . . .
' ' Yet tell me ere the dune we cross
How came you to this lonely land?
No curraghs in the tideway toss
And none is beached upon the strand! "
The weary pilgrim raised his head
And looked and smiled and said, '' From far,
My wandering feet have here been led
By the glory of a shining star. ..."
St. Colum gravely bowed, and said,
^ ' Enough, my friend, I ask no more ;
Doubtless some silence-vow was laid
Upon thee, ere thou sought 'st this shore:
" Now, come: and doff this raiment sad
And those rough sandals from thy feet:
The holy brethren will be glad
To haven thee in our retreat."
Together past the praying cells
And past the wattle-woven dome
Whence rang the tremulous vesper bells
St. Colum brought the stranger home.
130 Christmas in Legend and Story
From thyme-sweet pastures grey with dews
The milch-cows came with swinging tails:
And whirling high the wailing mews
Screamed o'er the brothers at their pails,
A single spire of smoke arose,
And hung, a phantom, in the cold ;
Three younger monks set forth to close
The ewes and lambs within the fold.
The purple twilight stole above
The grey-green dunes, the furrowed leas:
And Dusk, with breast as of a dove,
Brooded: and everywhere was peace.
Within the low refectory sate
The little clan of holy folk :
Then, while the brothers mused and ate,
The wayfarer arose and spoke. . . .
'' Colum of lona-Isle,
And ye who dwell in God's quiet place,
Before I crossed your narrow Jcyle
I looked in Heaven upon Christ's face/^
Thereat St. Columns startled glance
Swept o'er the man so poorly clad,
The Cross of the Dumb 131
And all the brethren looked askance
In fear the pilgrim-gnest was mad.
'' Andy Colum of God's Church i' the sea
And all ye Brothers of the Rood,
The Lord Christ gave a dream to me
And hade me bring it ye as food.
'^ Lift to the wandering cloud your eyes
And let them scan the wandering Deep. . . •
Hark ye not there the wandering sighs
Of brethren ye as outcasts keep? ''
Thereat the stranger bowed, and blessed;
Then, grave and silent, sought his cell:
St. Colum mused upon his guest,
Dumb wonder on the others fell.
At dead of night the Abbot came
To where the weary wayfarer slept :
'^ Tell me," he said, '' thy holy name . . . '*
— No more, for on bowed knees he wept. . . .
Great awe and wonder fell on him;
His mind was like a lonely wild
When suddenly is heard a hymn
Sung by a little innocent child.
132 Christmas in Legend and Story
'For now he knew their guest to be
No man as he and his, but one
Who in the Courts of Ecstasy
Worships, flame- winged, the Eternal Son.
The poor bare cell was filled with light.
That came from the swung moons the Seven
Seraphim swing day and night
Adown the infinite walls of Heaven.
But on the fern-wove mattress lay
No weary guest. St. Colum kneeled,
And found no trace; but, ashen-grey,
Far oif he heard glad anthems pealed.
At sunrise when the matins-bell
Made a cold silvery music fall
Through silence of each lonely cell
And over every fold and stall,
St. Colum called his monks to come
And follow him to where his hands
Would raise the Great Cross of the Dumb
Upon the Holy Island's sands. . . .
'' For I shall call from out the Deep
And from the grey fields of the skies.
The Cross of the Dumb 133
The brethren we as outcasts keep,
Our kindred of the dumb wild eyes. . . .
'' Behold, on this Christ's natal morn,
God wills the widening of His laws,
Another miracle to be born —
For lo, our guest an Angel was! ...
** His Dream the Lord Christ gave to him
To bring to us as Christ-Day food.
That Dream shall rise a holy hymn
And hang like a flower upon the Eood ! . . .
Thereat, while all with wonder stared
St. Colum raised the Holy Tree:
Then all with Christ-Day singing fared
To where the last sands lipped the sea.
St. Colum raised his arms on high . . .
'^ ye, all creatures of the wing,
Come here from out the fields o' the shy,
Come here and learn a wondrous thing! "
At that the wild clans of the air
Came sweeping in a mist of wings —
Ospreys and fierce solanders there,
Sea-swallows wheeling mazy rings,
134 Christmas in Legend and Story
The foam-white mew, the green-black scart,
The famishing hawk, the wailing tern,
All birds from the sand-bnilding mart
To lonely bittern and heron. . . .
St. Colum raised beseeching hands
And blessed the pastures of the sea:
^^ Come, all ye creatures, to the sands,
Come and behold the Sacred Tree! "
At that the cold clans of the wave
With spray and surge and splash appeared:
Up from each wrack-strewn, lightless cave
Dim day-struck eyes affrighted peered.
The pollacks came with rushing haste,
The great sea-cod, the speckled bass;
Along the foaming tideway raced
The herring-tribes like shimmering glass:
The mackerel and the dog-fish ran.
The whiting, haddock, in their wake :
The great sea-flounders upward span,
The fierce-eyed conger and the hake:
The greatest and the least of these
From hidden pools and tidal ways
The Cross of the Dumb 135
Surged in their myriads from the seas
And stared at St. Columba's face.
^ ' Hearken, ' ' he cried, with solemn voice —
'' Hearken! ye people of the Deep,
Ye people of the skies. Rejoice!
No more your soulless terror keep!
** For lo, an Angel from the Lord
Hath shown us that wherein we sin —
But now we humbly do His Word
And call you. Brothers, kith and kin. . . »
'^ No more we claim the world as ours
And everything that therein is —
To-day, Christ's Day, the infinite powers
Decree a common share of bliss.
*' I know not if the new-waked soul
That stirs in every heart I see
Has yet to reach the far-oif goal
Whose symbol is this Cross-shaped Tree. . . .
*' But, dumb kindred of the sides,
kinsfolk of the pathless seas,
136 Christmas in Legend and Story
All scorn and hate I exorcise,
And wish you nought but Love and Peace! "
Thus, on that Christmas-day of old
St. Colum broke the ancient spell.
A thousand years away have rolled,
'Tis now . . . ^^ a baseless miracle."
fellow-kinsmen of the Deep,
kindred of the wind and cloud,
God^s children too . . . how He must weep
Who on that day was glad and proudl
THE CHEISTMAS SONG OF C^DMON
H. E. G. Pakdee
About the year 650, among the servants in
the ancient Abbey of Streonschall, there was a
cowherd whose name was Caedmon. The habits
of the people of that age were simple and rude /
their houses were comfortless huts, their dress
was made from the skins of their flocks, or
from animals taken in the chasejrthey had no
books, and their literature was limited to the
Latin manuscripts of the Church, which few of
the monks even were learned enough to read,
and fewer still to translate. Amid such influ-
ences^he life of a cowherd could scarcely be
lifted above that of the beasts he cared for/
if his hunger and thirst were satisfied, he
would ask no more than a pleasant, daisied
meadow in summer, and a warm nook in the
winter. /But Caedmon had a sensitive nature,
that craved something nobler. When the min-
strels struck their harps, and sung the wild
138 Christmas in Legend and Story
traditions and fierce conflicts of their tribes,
and the guests followed with boisterous jest,
in their uncouth ballads, Caedmon sat silent
One evening, as the harp, passing from one
to another, drew nearer him, dreading the oft-
repeated taunts of his fellows, he crept away
in the shadows, and went to his only bed, — a
truss of straw.
After a while he slept, and in his sleep some
one of lofty stature, and with kindly-beaming
eyes, stood beside him, and commanded him to
sing. ** I cannot,'' replied Caedmon, despond-
** Sing! " was the uncompromising answer.
'' What shall I sing? "
** The origin of all things."
Immediately before his quickened sense
swept a vision of Creation, and to his glad
surprise he described it all in song. The next
morning he remembered, and repeated it; and
the monks, hearing of it, took him into the
monastery, and taught him scenes and sen-
tences from the Bible, which he rendered into
verse, and so became the first of the long line
of sacred poets.
The Christmas Song of Ccedmon 139
It was Christinas Eve, and the great hall of
the Abbey was decked with the Druids' sacred
mistletoe with its jjouinli/i fiuiUioi, the bright
green of the ivy, and branches of holly, with
scarlet, shining berries. Great logs were
heaped on the broad stones in the middle of
the hall, and jets of flame leaped up to brighten
the low, smoke-stained ceiling, and restless
shadows flitted along the wall, while the smoke
escaped through the opening in the roof, for
chimneys were then, and for many centuries
after, unknown. /The unglazed windows were
closed at nightiall by wooden shutters, and
rude comfort cheered the inmates^A robin,
who had fluttered in at dusk, and found Christ-
mas cheer on the holly boughs and warmth for
his numbed little feet, trilled a song of grati-
tude that winter had made such speed to be
Two nights before, a company of pilgrims
from the convents of Palestine, had come to
the monastery. They had been many months
on their way, eagerly welcomed wherever they
stopped, for journeying was both difficult and
dangerous, and travellers from such a remote
region were rarely met. Their dark complex-
140 Christmas in Legend and Story
ions, hair and beards; their bright, mobile
expression; their manners toned by the graces
of Eastern civilization, were a strange con-
trast to the shaggy, elfish, ruddy-faced throng
about them. This Christmas Eve they were
telling the monks wonderful stories of the Holy
Land; its beautiful, vine-clad hills; its trop-
ical, luscious fruits; its towering, plumy
palms and hoary cedars; the long lines of
caravans that wound over the silent, pathless
deserts to bring to its cities the riches of
Oriental commerce; the palaces and heathen
temples of those cities, and the traditional
glory of the Temple, with its magnificence of
gold, and precious stones, and woods and ivory.
On the table were huge platters of smoking
meats, and serving men brought in flagons
and tankards of ale, and feasting, stories and
minstrelsy held the hours till the midnight bell
called to the first mass and ushered in Christ-
mas Day. Caedmon, coming back from the
frosty chapel, saw the stars shining in the
brilliance of winter skies. His heart was suf-
fused with all he had heard the pilgrims re-
peat/^for the first time it entered his mind
that the same stars that he saw twinkling,
The Christmas Song of Ccedmon 141
held their course at that glad time when '' the
morning-stars sang together, and all the sons
of God shouted for joy,'' — a prelude to this
other song of '^ tjie great multitude of the
heavenly host.'/ He entered the hall, and
when the company reassembled, he took his
harp, and sang with power and pathos of the
slumbering flocks on Judea's upland pastures;
the faithful, watching shepherds; the loneli-
ness and silence of the night; the sudden,
startling brightness that shone about them,
and enveloped their angel visitant, who kindly
soothed their alarm with '' Fear not; " and
the outburst of angelic song, unheard by the
ears dulled with sleep, but overpowering these
astonished men. " happy shepherds! who
alone among men, were ever privileged to hear
the songs of heaven. "
His audience was thrilled. Never had the
monks heard Caedmon, or any other minstrel,
sing with such fire; the intervening centuries
fled before his song. They, too, went to the
lowly manger, and saw the Divine Infant
hushed on the happy breast of his young
mother and felt Mary's awe when the shep-
herds told her what they that night had seen
142 Christmas in Legend and Story
and heard. While CsBdmon sang they saw the
caravan winding over an unmarked way and
the wise men of the Orient following ever the
strange star, till, after weeks of travel, it stood
over the place where the young Child lay.
They saw, too, the aged, bearded Melchior,
Gaspar, young and fresh, and Balthazar the
Moor, descend from their kneeling camels with
their kingly offerings of gold, frankincense
and myrrh and prostrate themselves in rever-
ence before the Holy Babe.
** 'Twas ages, ages long ago,'' and Caedmon
and his hymns are nigh forgotten, but with
each returning Christmas-tide may be heard
again, as CsBdmon heard of yore, the angels'
song of joy: *^ Glory to God in the highest, and
on earth peace, good will toward men."
GOOD KING WENCESLAS
John Mason Neale
Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about,
Deep, and crisp, and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
Gathering winter fuel.
** Hither, page, and stand by me,
If thou know'st it, telling.
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling? ''
** Sire, he lives a good league hence,
Underneath the mountain;
Eight against the forest fence,
By Saint Agnes' fountain."
144 Christmas in Legend and Story
'' Bring me flesh, and bring me wine,
Bring me pine-logfe hither ;
Thou and I will see him dine,
When we bear them thither."
Page and monarch, forth they went,
Forth they went together;
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather.
^* Sire, the night is darker now,
And the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.''
** Mark my footsteps, good my page;
Tread thou in them boldly:
Thou shalt find the winter rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."
In his master's steps he trod,
Where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod
Which the saint had printed.
Good King Wenceslas 145
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
Shall yourselves find blessing.
THE CHRISTMAS AT GEECCIO: A
STORY OF ST. FRANCIS
*' The beautiful Mother is bending
Low where her Baby lies
Helpless and frail, for her tending;
But she knows the glorious eyes.
** The Mother smiles and rejoices
While the Baby laughs in the hay;
She listens to heavenly voices:
* The child shall be King, one day.'
** dear little Christ in the manger,
Let me make merry with Thee.
King, in my hour of danger,
Wilt Thou be strong for me? ''
— Adapted from the Latin of Jacopone da Todi,
One night in December . . . Brother Fran-
cis, with one companion, was walking through
the beautiful valley of the Velino River, toward
The Christmas at Greccio 147
Eieti, a little city where he came often on his
way from Assisi to Eome. To-night he had
turned somewhat aside from the main road,
for he wished to spend Christmas with his
friend, Sir John of Greccio. Greccio is a tiny
village, lying where the foothills begin, on the
western side of the valley. The very feet of
Brother Francis knew the road so well that he
could have walked safely in the darkness, but
it was not dark. The full moon floated over
the valley, making the narrow river and the
sharp outlines of the snow-covered mountains
shine like silver. The plain and the lower hills
were pasture land, and, not far from the road,
on a grassy slope, the Brothers saw the red
glow of an almost spent shepherds ' fire. * ' Let
us stop and visit our brothers, the shepherds,"
said Francis, and they turned toward the
There was no sense of winter in the air,
scarcely a touch of frost, and the only snow
was that on the silver peaks against the sky,.
The shepherds, three men and one boy, lay
sleeping soundly on the bare ground, with
their sheepskin coats drawn closely around
them. All about them the sheep were sleeping.
148 Christmas in Legend and Story
too, but the solemn white sheep dogs were wide
awake. If a stranger ^s foot had trod the grass
never so softly, every dog would have barked,
and every shepherd would have been on his
feet in an instant. But the dogs trotted si-
lently up to the Grey Brothers and rubbed
against them, as if they said, '^ We are glad
to see you again," for they knew the friendly
feet of the Little Poor Man, and they had
more than once helped him to eat the bread
that was his only dinner. Followed by the
dogs, Francis walked about among the shep-
herds, but they slept on, as only men who live
out of doors can sleep, and Francis could not
find it in his heart to waken them. The sheep
lay huddled together in groups for more
warmth. Around one small square of grass a
net was stretched, and, inside it, were the
mother sheep who had little lambs. There
was no sound except the faint cry, now and
then, of a baby lamb. The coals over which the
shepherds had cooked their supper paled from
dull red to grey, and there was only a thin
column of smoke, white in the moonlight.
Francis sat down on a stone, and the largest
of the white dogs pressed up against his knee.
The Christmas at Greccio 149
Another went dutifully back to his post beside
the fold where the mothers and babies slept.
The Italian hillside seemed to Francis to
change to that of Bethlehem, which he had
seen, perhaps, on his Eastern journey; the
clear December night seemed like that of the
first Christmas Eve. ^* How these shepherds
sleep ! * ' he thought ; ' * how they would awaken
if they heard the * Peace on earth ' of the an-
gels' song! " Then he remembered sadly how
the armies that called themselves Christian
had, year after year, battled with the Saracens
over the cradle and the tomb of the Prince of
Peace. The moonlight grew misty about him,
the silver heights of the mountains and the
silver line of the river faded, for the eyes of
Brother Francis were full of tears.
As the two Brothers went on their way,
Francis grew light of heart again. The sight
of the shepherds sleeping on the grass had
given him a new idea, and he was planning a
surprise for his friends at Greccio. For at
Greccio all were his friends, from Sir John,
his host, down to the babies in the street. In
the valley of Eieti he was almost as well
known and as dearly loved as in his own valley
150 Christmas in Legend and Story
of Assisi. The children of Greccio had never
heard of Christmas trees, nor, perhaps, of
Christmas presents. I am not sure that, in the
thirteenth century, Italians had the beautiful
custom which they now have of giving pres-
ents at Twelfth Night, in memory of the com-
ing of the three kings with their gifts to the
Christ Child; but in the thirteenth century,
even as now, Christmas was the happiest fes-
tival of the year. This year all the folk of
Greccio, big and little, were happier than usual
because their beloved Brother Francis was to
help them keep their Christmas-tide. Next
day Francis confided his plan to his friend,
Sir John, who promised that all should be
ready on Christmas Eve.
On the day before Christmas, the people
came from all the country around to see and
hear Brother Francis. Men, women and chil-
dren, dressed in their holiday clothes, walking,
riding on donkeys, crowding into little carts
drawn by great white oxen, from everywhere
and in every fashion, the country folk came
toward Greccio. Many came from far away,
and the early winter darkness fell long before
they could reach the town. The light of their
From Painting by Francia.
The Christmas at Greccio 151
torches might be seen on the open road, and
the sound of their singing reached the gates
of Greccio before them. That night the little
town was almost as crowded as was Bethlehem
on the eve of the first Christmas. The crowds
were poor folk, for the most part, peasants
from the fields, charcoal burners from the
mountains, shepherds in their sheepskin coats
and trousers, made with the wool outside, so
that the wearers looked like strange, two-
legged animals. The four shepherds who had
slept so soundly a few nights before were of
the company, but they knew nothing of their
midnight visitors. The white dogs knew, but
they could keep a secret. The shepherds were
almost as quiet as their dogs. They always
talked and sang less than other people, having
grown used to long silences among their
Gathered at last into the square before the
■church, by the light of flaring torches, for the
\noon would rise late, the people saw with
wonder and delight the surprise which Brother
Francis and Sir John had prepared for them.
They looked into a real stable. There was the
manger full of hay, there were a live ox and
152 Christmas in Legend and Story
a live ass. Even by torchlight their breath
showed in the frosty air. And there, on the
hay, lay a real baby, wrapped from the cold,
asleep and smiling. It looked as sweet and
innocent as the Christ Child Himself. The
people shouted with delight. They clapped
their hands and waved their torches.
Then there was silence, for Brother Francis
stood before them, and the voice they loved so
well, and had come so far to hear, began to
read the old story of the birth of the Child
Jesus, of the shepherds in the fields, and of the
angels' song. When the reading was ended.
Brother Francis talked to them as a father
might speak to his children. He told of the
love that is gentle as a little child, that is will-
ing to be poor and humble as the Baby who
was laid in a manger among the cattle. He
begged his listeners to put anger and hatred
and envy out of their hearts this Christmas
Eve, and to think only thoughts of peace and
good will. All listened eagerly while Brother
Francis spoke, but the moment he finished the
great crowd broke into singing. From the
church tower the bells rang loud; the torches
waved wildly, while voices here and there
The Christmas at Greccio 153
shouted for Brother Francis and for the
Blessed Little Christ. Never before had such
glorious hymns nor such joyous shouting been
heard in the town of Greccio. Only the moth-
ers, with babies in their arms, and the shep-
herds, in their woolly coats, looked on silently
and thought; ^' We are in Bethlehem."
THE SIN OF THE PRINCE BISHOP
The Prince Bishop Evrard stood gazing at
his marvellous Cathedral; and as he let his
eyes wander in delight over the three deep
sculptured portals and the double gallery above
them, and the great rose window, and the ring-
ers' gallery, and so up to the massive western
towers, he felt as though his heart were clap-
ping hands for joy within him. And he
thought to himself, ** Surely in all the world
God has no more beautiful house than this
which I have built with such long labor and at
so princely an outlay of my treasure." And
thus the Prince Bishop fell into the sin of vain-
glory, and, though he was a holy man, he did
not perceive that he had fallen, so filled with
gladness was he at the sight of his completed
In the double gallery of the west front there
were many great statues with crowns and scep-
tres, but a niche over the central portal was
The Sin of the Prince Bishop 155
empty, and this the Prince Bishop intended to
fill with a statue of himself. It was to be a
very small simple statue, as became one who
prized lowliness of heart, but as he looked up
at the vacant place it gave him pleasure to
think that hundreds of years after he was dead
people would pause before his effigy and praise
him and his work. And this, too, was vain-
As the Prince Bishop lay asleep that night
a mighty six-winged Angel stood beside him
and bade him rise. '' Come,'^ he said, " and
I will show thee some of those who have
worked with thee in building the great church,
and whose service in God^s eyes has been more
worthy than thine.'' And the Angel led him
past the Cathedral and down the steep street
of the ancient city, and though it was midday,
the people going to and fro did not seem to see
them. Beyond the gates they followed the
shelving road till they came to green level
fields, and there in the middle of the road, be-
tween grassy banks covered white with cherry
blossom, two great white oxen, yoked to a
huge block of stone, stood resting before they
began the toilsome ascent.
156 Christmas in Legend and Story
** Look! '* said the Angel; and the Prince
Bishop saw a little blue-winged bird which
perched on the stout yoke beam fastened to the
horns of the oxen, and sang such a heavenly
song of rest and contentment that the big
shaggy creatures ceased to blow stormily
through their nostrils, and drew long tranquil
*^ Look again! '' said the Angel. And from
a hut of wattles and clay a little peasant girl
came with a bundle of hay in her arms, and
gave first one of the oxen and then the other
a wisp. Then she stroked their black muzzles,
and laid her rosy face against their white
cheeks. Then the Prince Bishop saw the rude
teamster rise from his rest on the bank and
cry to his cattle, and the oxen strained against
the beam and the thick ropes tightened, and
the huge block of stone was once more set in
And when the Prince Bishop saw that it was
these fellow-workers whose service was more
worthy in God's eyes than his own, he was
abashed and sorrowful for his sin, and the
tears of his own weeping awoke him. So he
sent for the master of the sculptors and bade
The Sin of the Prince Bishop 157
him fill the little niche over the middle portal,
not with his own effigy but with an image of
the child; and he bade him make two colossal
figures of the white oxen; and to the great
wonderment of the people these were set up
high in the tower so that men could see them
against the blue sky. ** And as for me," he
said, ^^ let my body be buried, with my face
downward, outside the great church, in front
of the middle entrance, that men may trample
on my vainglory and that I may serve them as
a stepping-stone to the house of God; and the
little child shall look on me when I lie in the
Now the little girl in the niche was carved
with wisps of hay in her hands, but the child
who had fed the oxen knew nothing of this,
and as she grew up she forgot her childish
service, so that when she had grown to woman-
hood and chanced to see this statue over the
portal she did not know it was her own self in
stone. But what she had done was not for-
gotten in heaven.
And as for the oxen, one of them looked
east and one looked west across the wide fruit-
ful country about the foot of the hill-city. And
158 Christmas in Legend and Story
one caught the first grey gleam, and the first
rosy flush, and the first golden splendor of the
sunrise; and the other was lit with the color
of the sunset long after the lowlands had faded
away in the blue mist of the twilight. Weary
men and worn women looking up at them felt
that a gladness and a glory and a deep peace
had fallen on the life of toil. And then, when
people began to understand, they said it was
w^ell that these mighty laborers, who had
helped to build the house, should still find a
place of service and honor in the house; and
they remembered that the Master of the house
had once been a Babe warmed in a manger by
the breath of kine. And at the thought of this
men grew more pitiful to their cattle, and to
the beasts in servitude, and to all dumb ani-
mals. And that was one good fruit which
sprang from the Prince Bishop ^s repentance.
Now over the colossal stone oxen hung the
bells of the Cathedral. On Christmas Eve the
ringers, according to the old custom, ascended
to their gallery to ring in the birth of the Babe
Divine. At the moment of midnight the master
ringer gave the word, and the great bells began
to swing in joyful sequence. Down below in
From Painting by Blashfield.
The Sin of the Prince Bishop 159
the crowded church lay the image of the new-
born Child on the cold straw, and at His haloed
head stood the images of the ox and the ass.
Far out across the snow-roofed city, far away
over the white glistening country rang the
glad music of the tower. People who went to
their doors to listen cried in astonishment:
*^ Hark! what strange music is that? It
sounds as if the lowing of cattle were mingled
with the chimes of the bells. ^* In truth it was
so. And in every byre the oxen and the kine
answered the strange sweet cadences with their
lowing, and the great stone oxen lowed back to
their kin of the meadow through the deep notes
of the joy-peal.
In the fulness of time the Prince Bishop
Evrard died and was buried as he had willed,
with his face humbly turned to the earth ; and
to this day the weather-wasted figure of the
little girl looks down on him from her niche,
and the slab over Ms grave serves as a step-
ping-stone to pious feet.
Taken by permission of E. P. Button and Company from
** A Child's Book of Saints," by William Canton, Everyman's
EARL SIGURD'S CHRISTMAS EVE
Hjalmab Hjorth Boyesen
Earl Sigued, he rides o'er the foam-crested
And he heeds not the billowy brawl,
For he yearns to behold gentle Swanwhite, the
Who abides in Sir Burislav's hall.
*' Earl Sigurd, the viking, he comes, he is near!
Earl Signrd, the scourge of the sea;
Among the wild rovers who dwell on the deep,
There is none that is dreaded as he.
** Oh, hie ye, ye maidens^ and hide where ye
Ere the clang of his war-ax ye hear,
For the wolf of the woods has more pity than
And his heart is as grim as his spear."
Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 161
Thus rang the dread tidings, from castle to hut,
Through the length of Sir Burislav's land,
As they spied the red pennon unfurled to the
And the galleys that steered for the strand.
But with menacing brow, looming high in his
Stood Earl Sigurd, and fair to behold
Was his bright, yellow hair, as it waved in the
'Neath the glittering helmet of gold.
*^ Up, my comrades, and stand with your
broadswords in hand.
For the war is great Odin's delight;
And the Thunderer proud, how he laughs in his
When the Norsemen prepare for the fight ! ' '
And the light galleys bore the fierce crew to the
And naught good did their coming forebode.
And a wail rose on high to the storm-riven sky
As to Burislav's castle they strode.
162 Christmas in Legend and Story
Then the stout-hearted men of Sir Burislav's
To the gate-way came thronging full fast,
And the battle-blade rang with a murderous
Borne aloft on the wings of the blast.
And they hewed and they thrust, till each man
bit the dust.
Their fierce valor availing them naught.
But the Thunderer proud, how he laughed in
When he saw how the Norsemen had fought !
Then came Burislav forth; to the men of the
Thus in quivering accents spake he:
^ * 0, ye warriors, name me the ransom ye claim.
Or in gold, or in robes, or in fee.''
'' Oh, what reck I thy gold? " quoth Earl
Sigurd, the bold;
** Has not Thor laid it all in my hand?
Give me Swanwhite, the fair, and by Balder I
I shall never revisit thy land.
Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 163
** For my vengeance speeds fast, and I come
like the blast
Of the night o 'er the billowy brine ;
I forget not thy scorn and thy laugh on that
When I wooed me the maid that was mine.''
Then the chief, sore afraid, brought the lily-
To the edge of the blood-sprinkled field.
And they bore her aloft o'er the sward of the
On the vault of the glittering shield.
But amain in their path, in a whirlwind of
Came young Harold, Sir Burislav's son;
With a great voice he cried, while the echoes
** Lo, my vengeance, it cometh anon! "
* ^ Hark ye, Norsemen, hear great tidings :
Odin, Thor, and Frey are dead.
And white Christ, the strong and gentle,
standeth peace-crowned in their stead.
164 Christmas in Legend and Story
Lo, the blood-stained day of vengeance to the
ancient night is hurled,
And the dawn of Christ is beaming blessings
o'er the new-born world.
** See the Cross in splendor gleaming far and
wide o'er pine-clad heath,
While the flaming blade of battle slumbers in
its golden sheath.
And before the lowly Savior, e 'en the rider of
Sigurd, tamer of the billow, he hath bent the
stubborn knee. ' '
Now at Yule-tide sat he feasting on the shore
of Drontheim fiord.
And his stalwart swains about him watched
the bidding of their lord.
Huge his strength was, but his visage, it was
mild and fair to see;
Ne'er old Norway, heroes' mother, bore a
mightier son than he.
With her maids sat gentle Swanwhite 'neath a
roof of gleaming shields,
As the rarer lily blossoms 'mid the green herbs
of the fields ;
Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 165
To and fro their merry words flew lightly
through the torch-lit room,
Like a shuttle deftly skipping through the
mazes of the loom.
And the scalds with nimble fingers o'er the
sounding harp-strings swept;
Now the strain in laughter rippled, now with
hidden woe it wept.
For they sang of Time 's beginning, ere the sun
the day brought forth —
Sang as sing the ocean breezes through the
pine-woods of the North.
Bolder beat the breasts of Norsemen — when
amid the tuneful din
Open sprang the heavy hall-doors, and a
stranger entered in.
Tall his growth, though low he bended o'er a
twisted staff of oak,
And his stalwart shape was folded in a dun,
Straight the Earl his voice uplifted: ^* Hail
to thee, my guest austere!
Drain with me this cup of welcome : thou shalt
share our Yule-tide cheer.
166 Christmas in Legend and Story
Thou shalt sit next to my high-seat e'en
though lowly be thy birth,
For to-night our Lord, the Savior, came a
stranger to his earth.''
Up then rose the gentle Swanwhite, and her
eyes with fear grew bright;
Down the dusky hall she drifted, as a shadow
drifts by night.
^^ If my lord would hold me worthy," low she
spake, *^ then grant me leave
To abide between the stranger and my lord,
this Christmas eve."
*^ Strange, guest, is women's counsel, still
their folly is the staff
Upon which our wisdom leaneth," and he
laughed a burly laugh;
Lifted up her lissome body with a husband's
Kissed her brow, and placed her gently in the
high-seat at his side.
But the guest stood pale and quivered, where
the red flames roofward rose.
And he clenched the brimming goblet in his
fingers, fierce and close,
Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 167
Then he spake: ** All hail, Earl Sigurd,
mightiest of the Norsemen, hail!
Ere I name to thee my tidings, I will taste thy
flesh and ale."
Quoth the merry Earl with fervor: *^ Courte-
ous is thy speech and free :
While thy worn soul thou refreshest, I will
sing a song to thee;
For beneath that dusky garment thou mayst
hide a hero's heart.
And my hand, though stiff, hath scarcely yet
unlearned the singer's art.''
Then the arms so tightly folded round his neck
the Earl unclasped.
And his heart was stirred within him as the
silvern strings he grasped.
But with eyes of meek entreaty, closely to his
side she clung.
While his mighty soul rose upward on the
billows of the song.
For he sang, in tones impassioned, of the death
of -^sir bright.
Sang the song of Christ the glorious, who was
born a babe to-night,
r^S Christmas in Legend and Story
How the hosts of heaven victorious joined the
anthem of his birth,
Of the kings the starlight guided from the far
lands of the earth.
And anon, with bodeful glamour fraught, the
hurrying strain sped on.
As he sang the law of vengeance and the wrath
Sang of gods with murder sated, who had laid
the fair earth waste,
Who had whetted swords of Norsemen,
plunged them into Norsemen's breast.
But he shook a shower of music, rippling from
the silver strings,
And bright visions rose of angels and of fair
and shining things
As he sang of heaven's rejoicing at the mild
and bloodless reign
Of the gentle Christ who bringeth peace and
good-will unto men!
But the guest sat dumb and hearkened, staring
at the brimming bowl,
While the lay with mighty wing-beats swept
the darkness of his soul.
Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 169
For the Christ who worketh wonders as of old,
so e'en to-day
Sent his angel downward gliding on the ladder
of the lay.
As the host his song had ended with a last re-
And within the harp's dumb chambers mur-
murous echoes faintly rang,
Up then sprang the guest, and straightway
downward rolled his garment dun —
There stood Harold, the avenger, Burislav's
High he loomed above the feasters in the torch-
light dim and weird,
From his eyes hot tears were streaming,
sparkling in his tawny beard;
Shining in his sea-blue mantle stood he, 'mid
that wondering throng.
And each maiden thought him fairest, and each
warrior vowed him strong.
Swift he bared his blade of battle, flung it
quivering on the board :
* * Lo ! " he cried, ' ' I came to bid thee baleful
greeting with my sword;
170 Christmas in Legend and Story
Thou hast dulled the edge that never shrank
from battle's fiercest test —
Now I come, as comes a brother, swordless unto
** With three hundred men I landed in the
gloaming at thy shore —
Dost thou hear their axes clanking on their
shields without thy door?
But a yearning woke within me my sweet sis-
ter's voice to hear.
To behold her face and whisper words of
warning in her ear.
** But I knew not of the new-born king, who
holds the earth in sway,
And whose voice like fragrance blended in the
soarings of thy lay.
This my vengeance now, brother: foes as
friends shall hands unite;
Teach me, thou, the wondrous tidings, and the
law of Christ the white."
Touched as by an angel's glory, strangely
shone Earl Sigurd's face.
As he locked his foe, his brother, in a brotherly
Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 171
And each warrior upward leaping, swung his
horn with gold bedight :
'''' Hail to Sigurd, hail to Harold, three times
hail to Christ the white! ''
A CHRISTMAS LEGEND
It was Christmas Eve. The night was very
dark and the snow falling fast, as Hermann,
the charcoal-burner, drew his cloak tighter
around him, and the wind whistled fiercely
through the trees of the Black Forest. He had
been to carry a load to a castle near, and was
now hastening home to his little hut. Although
he worked very hard, he was poor, gaining
barely enough for the wants of his wife and
his four little children. He was thinking of
them, when he heard a faint wailing. Guided
by the sound, he groped about and found a
little child, scantily clothed, shivering and sob-
bing by itself in the snow.
< * Why, little one, have they left thee here all
alone to face this cruel blast? ''
The child answered nothing, but looked pite-
ously up in the charcoal-burner's face.
'* Well, I cannot leave thee here. Thou
would 'st be dead before the morning."
A Christmas Legend 173
So saying, Hermann raised it in his arms,
wrapping it in his cloak and warming its little
cold hands in his bosom. When he arrived at
his hut, he put down the child and tapped at
the door, which was immediately thrown open,
and the children rushed to meet him.
^^ Here, wife, is a guest to our Christmas
Eve supper,'' said he, leading in the little one,
who held timidly to his finger with its tiny
'^ And welcome he is,'' said the wife. '' Now
let him come and warm himself by the fire."
The children all pressed round to welcome
and gaze at the little new-comer. They showed
him their pretty fir-tree, decorated with bright,
colored lamps in honor of Christmas Eve,
which the good mother had endeavored to
make a fete for the children.
Then they sat down to supper, each child
contributing of its portion for the guest, look-
ing with admiration at its clear, blue eyes and
golden hair, which shone so as to shed a
brighter light in the little room; and as they
gazed, it grew into a sort of halo round his
head, and his eyes beamed with a heavenly
luster. Soon two white wings appeared at his
174 Christmas in Legend and Story
shoulders, and he seemed to grow larger and
larger, and then the beautiful vision vanished,
spreading out his hands as in benediction over
Hermann and his wife fell on their knees,
exclaiming, in awe-struck voices : * * The holy
Christ-child! '' and then embraced their won-
dering children in joy and thankfulness that
they had entertained the Heavenly Guest.
The next morning, as Hermann passed by
the place where he had found the fair child, he
saw a cluster of lovely white flowers, with dark
green leaves, looking as though the snow itself
had blossomed. Hermann plucked some, and
carried them reverently home to his wife and
children, who treasured the fair blossoms and
tended them carefully in remembrance of that
wonderful Christmas Eve, calling them Chrys-
anthemums ; and every year, as the time came
round, they put aside a portion of their feast
and gave it to some poor little child, according
to the words of the Christ: *^ Inasmuch as ye
have done it unto one of the least of these my
brethren, ye have done it unto me."
THE LEGEND OF THE CHEISTMAS
EoBBER MoTHEE, ^^vho Hved in Eobbers' Cave
up in Goinge forest, went down to the village
one day on a begging tour. Eobber Father,
who was an outlawed man, did not dare to
leave the forest, but had to content himself
with lying in wait for the wayfarers who ven-
tured within its borders. But at that time
travellers were not very plentiful in Southern
Skane. If it so happened that the man had
had a few weeks of ill luck with his hunt, his
wife would take to the road. She took with her
five youngsters, and each youngster wore a
ragged leathern suit and birch-bark shoes and
bore a sack on his back as long as himself.
When Eobber Mother stepped inside the door
of a cabin, no one dared refuse to give her
whatever she demanded ; for she was not above
coming back the following night and setting
176 Christmas in Legend and Story
fire to the house if she had not been well re-
ceived. Eobber Mother and her brood were
worse than a pack of wolves, and many a man
felt like running a spear through them; but it
was never done, because they all knew that the
man stayed up in the forest, and he would have
known how to wreak vengeance if anything had
happened to the children or the old woman.
Now that Robber Mother went from house
to house and begged, she came one day to
Ovid, which at that time was a cloister. She
rang the bell of the cloister gate and asked for
food. The watchman let down a small wicket
in the gate and handed her six round bread
cakes — one for herself and one for each of
the five children.
While the mother was standing quietly at the
gate, her youngsters were running about. And
now one of them came and pulled at her skirt,
as a signal that he had discovered something
which she ought to come and see, and Robber
Mother followed him promptly.
The entire cloister was surrounded by a high
and strong wall, but the youngster had man-
aged to find a little back gate which stood
ajar. When Robber Mother got there, she
The Legend of the Christmas Rose 111
pushed tlie gate open and walked inside with-
out asking leave, as it was her custom to do.
Ovid Cloister was managed at that time by
Abbot Hans, who knew all about herbs. Just
within the cloister wall he had planted a little
herb garden, and it was into this that the old
woman had forced her way.
At first glance Eobber Mother was so aston-
ished that she paused at the gate. It was high
summertide, and Abbot Hans' garden was so
full of flowers that the eyes were fairly daz-
zled by the blues, reds, and yellows, as one
looked into it. But presently an indulgent
smile spread over her features, and she started
to walk up a narrow path that lay between
In the garden a lay brother walked about,
pulling up weeds. It was he who had left the
door in the wall open, that he might throw the
weeds and tares on the rubbish heap outside.
When he saw Robber Mother coming in, with
all five youngsters in tow, he ran toward her
at once and ordered them away. But the beg-
gar woman walked right on as before. She
cast her eyes up and down, looking now at the
stiff white lilies which spread near the ground,
178 Christmas in Legend and Story
then on the ivy climbing high upon the cloister
wall, and took no notice whatever of the lay
He thought she had not understood him, and
wanted to take her by the arm and turn her
toward the gate. But when the robber woman
saw his purpose, she gave him a look that sent
him reeling backward. She had been walking
with back bent under her beggar ^s pack, but
now she straightened herself to her full height.
* * I am Eobber Mother from Goinge forest ; so
touch me if you dare! " And it was obvious
that she was as certain she would be left in
peace as if she had announced that she was the
Queen of Denmark.
And yet the lay brother dared to oppose her,
although now, when he knew who she was, he
spoke reasonably to her. '' You must know,
Eobber Mother, that this is a monks' cloister,
and no woman in the land is allowed within
these walls. If you do not go away, the monks
will be angry with me because I forgot to close
the gate, and perhaps they will drive me away
from the cloister and the herb garden."
But such prayers were wasted on Eobber
Mother. She walked straight ahead among the
The Legend of the Christmas Rose 179
little flower-beds and looked at the hyssop with
its magenta blossoms, and at the honeysuckles,
which were full of deep orange-colored flower
Then the lay brother knew of no other rem-
edy than to run into the cloister and call for
He returned with two stalwart monks, and
Robber Mother saw that now it meant busi-
ness! With feet firmly planted she stood in
the path and began shrieking in strident tones
all the awful vengeance she would wreak on
the cloister if she couldn't remain in the herb
garden as long as she wished. But the monks
did not see why they need fear her and thought
only of driving her out. Then Robber Mother
let out a perfect volley of shrieks, and, throw-
ing hersielf upon the monks, clawed and bit at
them; so did all the youngsters. The men
soon learned that she could overpower them,
and all they could do was to go back into the
cloister for reinforcements.
As they ran through the passage-way which
led to the cloister, they met Abbot Hans, who
came rushing out to learn what all this noise
180 Christmas in Legend and Story
Then they had to confess that Eobber
Mother from Goinge forest had come into the
cloister and that they were nnable to drive her
out and must call for assistance.
But Abbot Hans upbraided them for using
force and forbade their calling for help. He
sent both monks back to their work, and al-
though he was an old and fragile man, he took
with him only the lay brother.
When Abbot Hans came out in the garden,
Eobber Mother was still wandering among the
flower-beds. He regarded her with astonish-
ment. He was certain that Robber Mother
had never before seen an herb garden ; yet she
sauntered leisurely between all the small
patches, each of which had been planted with
its own species of rare flower, and looked
at them as if they were old acquaintances.
At some she smiled, at others she shook her
Abbot Hans loved his herb garden as much
as it was possible for him to love anything
earthly and perishable. Wild and terrible as
the old woman looked, he couldn't help liking
that she had fought with three monks for the
privilege of viewing the garden in peace. He
The Legend of the Christmas Rose 181
came up to her and asked in a mild tone if the
garden pleased her.
Eobber Mother turned defiantly toward
Abbot Hans, for she expected only to be
trapped and overpowered. But when she
noticed his white hair and bent form, she an-
swered peaceably, '' First, when I saw this, I
thought I had never seen a prettier garden;
but now I see that it can't be compared with
one I know of.''
Abbot Hans had certainly expected a differ-
ent answer. When he heard that Eobber
Mother had seen a garden more beautiful than
his, a faint flush spread over his withered
cheek. The lay brother, who was standing
close by, immediately began to censure the old
woman. '' This is Abbot Hans," said he,
** who with much care and diligence has gath-
ered the flowers from far and near for his herb
garden. We all know that there is not a more
beautiful garden to be found in all Skane, and
it is not befitting that you, who live in the wild
forest all the year around, should find fault
with his work."
** I don't wish to make myself the judge of
either him or you," said Eobber Mother.
182 Christmas in Legend and Story
*^ I'm only saying that if yon could see the
garden of which I am thinking yon would up-f
root all the flowers planted here and cast them
away like weeds/'
But the Abbot's assistant was hardly less
proud of the flowers than the Abbot himself,
and after hearing her remarks he laughed de-
risively. ** I can understand that you only
talk like this to tease us. It must be a pretty
garden that you have made for yourself
amongst the pines in Goinge forest! I'd be
willing to wager my soul's salvation that you
have never before been within the walls of an
Eobber Mother grew crimson with rage to
think that her word was doubted, and she cried
out: ** It may be true that until to-day I had
never been within the walls of an herb garden;
but you monks, who are holy men, certainly
must know that on every Christmas Eve the
great Goinge forest is transformed into a beau-
tiful garden, to commemorate the hour of our
Lord's birth. We who live in the forest have
seen this happen every year. And in that
garden I have seen flowers so lovely that I
dared not lift my hand to pluck them."
The Legend of the Christmas RSse 183
Tlie lay brother wanted to continue the argu-
ment, but Abbot Hans gave him a sign to be
silent. For, ever since his childhood. Abbot
Hans had heard it said that on every Christ-
mas Eve the forest was dressed in holiday
glory. He had often longed to see it, but he
had never had the good fortune. Eagerly he
begged and implored Eobber Mother that he
might come up to the Robbers ' Cave on Christ-
mas Eve. If she would only send one of her
children to show him the way, he could ride up
there alone, and he would never betray them —
on the contrary, he would reward them, in so
far as it lay in his power.
Eobber Mother said no at first, for she was
thinking of Eobber Father and of the peril
which might befall him should she permit Ab-
bot Hans to ride up to their cave. At the
same time the desire to prove to the monk
that the garden which she knew was more
beautiful than his got the better of her, and
she gave in.
^* But more than one follower you cannot
take with you,'' said she, ^^ and you are not to
waylay us or trap us, as sure as you are a holy
man. ' '
184 Christmas in Legend and Story
This Abbot Hans promised, and then Eobber
Mother went her way. Abbot Hans com-
manded the lay brother not to reveal to a soul
that which had been agreed upon. He feared
that the monks, should they learn of his pur-
pose, would not allow a man of his years to go
up to the Robbers' Cave.
Nor did he himself intend to reveal his pro-
ject to a human being. And then it happened
that Archbishop Absalon from Lund came to
Ovid and remained through the night. When
Abbot Hans was showing him the herb garden,
he got to thinking of Eobber Mother's visit,
and the lay brother, who was at work in the
garden, heard Abbot Hans telling the Bishop
about Robber Father, who these many years
had lived as an outlaw in the forest, and asking
him for a letter of ransom for the man, that he
might lead an honest life among respectable
folk. '' As things are now," said Abbot Hans,
*^ his children are growing up into worse male-
factors than himself, and you will soon have
a whole gang of robbers to deal with up there
in the forest."
But the Archbishop replied that he did not
care to let the robber loose among honest folk
The Legend of the Christmas Rose 185
in the villages. It would be best for all that he
remain in the forest.
Then Abbot Hans grew zealous and told the
Bishop all about Goinge forest, which, every
year at Yuletide, clothed itself in summer
bloom around the Robbers' Cave. '' If these
bandits are not so bad but that God's glories
can be made manifest to them, surely we can-
not be too wicked to experience the same
blessing. ' '
The Archbishop knew how to answer Abbot
Hans. '^ This much I will promise you. Abbot
Hans,'' he said, smiling, " that any day you
send me a blossom from the garden in Goinge
forest, I will give you letters of ransom for all
the outlaws you may choose to plead for."
The lay brother apprehended that Bishop
Absalon believed as little in this story of
Robber Mother's as he himself; but Abbot
Hans perceived nothing of the sort, but
thanked Absalon for his good promise and
said that he would surely send him the flower.
Abbot Hans had his way. And the following
Christmas Eve he did not sit at home with his
monks in Ovid Cloister, but was on his way to
186 Christmas in Legend and Story
Goinge forest. One of Eobber Mother's wild
youngsters ran ahead of him, and close behind
him was the lay brother who had talked with
Robber Mother in the herb garden.
Abbot Hans had been longing to make this
journey, and he was very happy now that it
had come to pass. But it was a different
matter with the lay brother who accompanied
him. Abbot Hans was very dear to him, and
he would not willingly have allowed another to
attend him and watch over him; but he didn't
believe that he should see any Christmas Eve
garden. He thought the whole thing a snare
which Robber Mother had, vwith great cunning,
laid for Abbot Hans, that he might fall into
her husband's clutches.
While Abbot Hans was riding toward the
forest, he saw that everywhere they were pre-
paring to celebrate Christmas. In every peas-
ant settlement fires were lighted in the bath-
house to warm it for the afternoon bathing.
Great hunks of meat and bread were being
carried from the larders into the cabins, and
from the barns came the men with big sheaves
of straw to be strewn over the floors.
As he rode by the little country churches,
The Legend of the Christmas Rose 187
he observed that each parson, with his sexton,
was busily engaged in decorating his church;
and when he came to the road which leads to
Bosjo Cloister, he observed that all the poor
of the parish were coming with armfuls of
bread and long candles, which they had re-
ceived at the cloister gate.
When Abbot Hans saw all these Christmas
preparations, his haste increased. He was
thinking of the festivities that awaited him,
which were greater than any the others would
be privileged to enjoy.
But the lay brother whined and fretted when
he saw how they were preparing to celebrate
Christmas in every humble cottage. He grew
more and more anxious, and begged and im-
plored Abbot Hans to turn back and not to
throw himself deliberately into the robber's
Abbot Hans went straight ahead, paying no
heed to his lamentations. He left the plain
behind him and came up into desolate and wild
forest regions. Here the road was bad, almost
like a stony and burr-strewn path, with neither
bridge nor plank to help them over brooklet
and rivulet. The farther they rode, the colder
188 Christmas in Legend and Story
it grew, and after a while they came upon
It turned out to be a long and hazardous
ride through the forest. They climbed steep
and slippery side paths, crawled over swamp
and marsh, and pushed through windfall and
bramble. Just as daylight was waning, the
robber boy guided them across a forest
meadow, skirted by tall, naked leaf trees and
green fir trees. Back of the meadow loomed
a mountain wall, and in this wall they saw a
door of thick boards. Now Abbot Hans under-
stood that they had arrived, and dismounted.
The child opened the heavy door for him, and
he looked into a poor mountain grotto, with
bare stone walls. Robber Mother was seated
before a log fire that burned in the middle of
the floor. Alongside the walls were beds of
virgin pine and moss, and on one of these beds
lay Eobber Father asleep.
** Come in, you out there! " shouted Robber
Mother without rising, '' and fetch the horses
in with you, so they won't be destroyed by the
Abbot Hans walked boldly into the cave, and
the lay brother followed. Here were wretched-
The Legend of the Christmas Rose 189
ness and poverty! and nothing was done to
celebrate Christmas. Robber Mother had
neither brewed nor baked; she had neither
washed nor scoured. The youngsters were ly-
ing on the floor around a kettle, eating; but
no better food was provided for them than a
Robber Mother spoke in a tone as haughty
and dictatorial as any well-to-do peasant
woman. *' Sit down by the fire and warm
yourself, Abbot Hans,'' said she; '' and if you
have food with you, eat, for the food which we
in the forest prepare you wouldn't care to
taste. And if you are tired after the long
journey, you can lie down on one of these beds
to sleep. You needn't be afraid of oversleep-
ing, for I'm sitting here by the fire keeping
watch. I shall awaken you in time to see that
which you have come up here to see."
Abbot Hans obeyed Robber Mother and
brought forth his food sack; but he was so
fatigued after the journey he was hardly able
to eat, and as soon as he could stretch himself
on the bed, he fell asleep.
The lay brother was also assigned a bed to
rest upon, but he didn't dare sleep, as he
190 Christmas in Legend and Story
thouglit lie had better keep his eye on Eobber
Father to prevent his getting up and capturing
Abbot Hans. But gradually fatigue got the
better of him, too, and he dropped into a doze.
When he woke up, he saw that Abbot Hans
had left his bed and was sitting by the fire
talking with Eobber Mother. The outlawed
robber sat also by the fire. He was a tall, raw-
boned man with a dull, sluggish appearance.
His back was turned to Abbot Hans, as though
he would have it appear that he was not listen-
ing to the conversation.
Abbot Hans was telling Eobber Mother all
about the Christmas preparations he had seen
on the journey, reminding her of Christmas
feasts and games which she must have known
in her youth, when she lived at peace with man-
kind. ^^ I'm sorry for your children, who can
never run on the village street in holiday dress
or tumble in the Christmas straw,'' said he.
At first Eobber Mother answered in short,
gruff sentences, but by degrees she became
more subdued and listened more intently.
Suddenly Eobber Father turned toward Abbot
Hans and shook his clenched fist in his face.
** You miserable monk! did you come here to
Tha Legend of the Christmas Rose 191
coax from me my wife and children? Don't
you know that I am an outlaw and may not
leave the forest? ''
Abbot Hans looked him fearlessly in the
eyes. ^^ It is my purpose to get a letter of
ransom for you from Archbishop Absalon,"
said he. He had hardly finished speaking when
the robber and his wife burst out laughing.
They knew well enough the kind of mercy a
forest robber could expect from Bishop Ab-
^* Oh, if I get a letter of ransom from Ab-
salon,'' said Robber Father, ^^ then I'll prom-
ise you that never again will I steal so much
as a goose."
The lay brother was annoyed with the robber
folk for daring to laugh at Abbot Hans, but on
his own account he was well pleased. He had
seldom seen the Abbot sitting more peaceful
and meek with his monks at Ovid than he now
sat with this wild robber folk.
Suddenly Robber Mother rose. ^^ You sit
here and talk. Abbot Hans," she said, ^^ so that
we are forgetting to look at the forest. Now
I can hear, even in this cave, how the Christ-
mas bells are ringing."
1&2 Christmas in Legend and Story
The words were baroly uttered when they all
sprang up and rushed out. But in the forest
it was still dark night and bleak winter. The
only thing they marked was a distant clang
borne on a light south wind.
** How can this bell ringing ever awaken the
dead forest! '' thought Abbot Hans. For
now, as he stood out in the winter darkness, he
thought it far more impossible that a summer
garden could spring up here than it had
seemed to him before.
When the bells had been ringing a few mo-
ments, a sudden illumination penetrated the
forest; the next moment it was dark again,
and then the light came back. It pushed its
way forward between the stark trees, like a
shimmering mist. This much it effected: The
darkness merged into a faint daybreak. Then
Abbot Hans saw that the snow had vanished
from the ground, as if some one had removed
a carpet, and the earth began to take on a
green covering. Then the ferns shot up their
fronds, rolled like a bishop's staff. The
heather that grew on the stony hills and the
bog-myrtle rooted in the ground moss dressed
themselves quickly in new bloom. The moss-
The Legend of the Christmas Rose 193
tufts thickened and raised themselves, and the
spring blossoms shot upward their swelling
buds, which already had a touch of color.
Abbot Hans' heart beat fast as he marked
the first signs of the forest's awakening.
** Old man that I am, shall I behold such a
miracle? '' thought he, and the tears wanted
to spring to his eyes. Again it grew so hazy
that he feared the darkness would once more
cover the earth; but almost immediately there
came a new wave of light. It brought with it
the splash of rivulet and the rush of cataract.
Then the leaves of the trees burst into bloom,
as if a swarm of green butterflies came flying
and clustered on the branches. It was not only
trees and plants that awoke, but crossbeaks
hopped from branch to branch, and the wood-
peckers hammered on the limbs until the splin-
ters fairly flew around them. A flock of star-
lings from up country lighted in a fir top to
rest. They were paradise starlings. The tips
of each tiny feather shone in brilliant reds,
and, as the birds moved, they glittered like so
Again, all was dark for an instant, but soon
there came a new light wave. A fresh, warm
194 Christmas in Legend and Story
south wind blew and scattered over the forest
meadow all the little seeds that had been
brought here from southern lands by birds and
ships and winds, and which could not thrive
elsewhere because of this country's cruel cold.
These took root and sprang up the instant they
touched the ground.
When the next warm wind came along, the
blueberries and lignon ripened. Cranes and
wild geese shrieked in the air, the bullfinches
built nests, and the baby squirrels began play-
ing on the branches of the trees.
Everything came so fast now that Abbot
Hans could not stop to reflect on how immeas-
urably great was the miracle that was taking
place. He had time only to use his eyes and
ears. The next light wave that came rushing
in brought with it the scent of newly ploughed
acres, and far off in the distance the milkmaids
were heard coaxing the cows — and the tinkle
of the sheep's bells. Pine and spruce trees
were so thickly clothed with red cones that
they shone like crimson mantles. The juniper
berries changed color every second, and forest
flowers covered the ground till it was all red,
blue, and yellow.
The Legend of f - Christmas Rose 195
Abbot Hans bent down to the earth and
broke off a wild strawberry blossom, and, as
he straightened up, the berry ripened in his
The mother fox came out of her lair with a
big litter of black-legged young. She went up
to Robber Mother and scratched at her skirt,
and Robber Mather bent down to her and
praised her young. The horned owl, who had
just begun his night chase, was astonished at
the light and went back to his ravine to perch
for the night. The male cuckoo crowed, and
his mate stole up to the nests of the little birds
with her egg in her mouth.
Robber Mother's youngsters let out perfect
shrieks of delight. They stuffed themselves
with wild strawberries that hung on the
bushes, large as pine cones. One of them
played with a litter of young hares; another
ran a race with some young crows, which had
hopped from their nest before they were really
ready; a third caught up an adder from the
ground and wound it around his neck and
Robber Father was standing out on a marsh
eating raspberries. When he glanced up, a
196 Christmas in Legend and Story
big black bear stood beside him. Robber
Father broke off an osier twig and struck the
bear on the nose. ' ^ Keep to your own ground,
you! '' he said; *^ this is my turf.'' Then the
huge bear turned around and lumbered off in
New waves of warmth and light kept coming,
and now they brought with them seeds from
the star-flower. Golden pollen from rye fields
fairly flew in the air. Then came butterflies,
so big that they looked like flying lilies. The
bee-hive in a hollow oak was already so full of
honey that it dripped down on the trunk of the
tree. Then all the flowers whose seeds had
been brought from foreign lands began to
blossom. The loveliest roses climbed up the
mountain wall in a race with the blackberry
vines, and from the forest meadow sprang
flowers as large as human faces.
Abbot Hans thought of the flower he was to
pluck for Bishop Absalon ; but each new flower
that appeared was more beautiful than the
others, and he wanted to choose the most beau-
tiful of all.
Wave upon wave kept coming until the air
was so filled with light that it glittered. All
The Legend of the Christmas Rose 197
the life and beauty and joy of summer smiled
on Abbot Hans. He felt that earth could bring
no greater happiness than that which welled
up about him, and he said to himself, ^^ I do
not know what new beauties the next wave
that comes can bring with it.'^
But ihe light kept streaming in, and now it
seemed to Abbot Hans that it carried with it
something from an infinite distance. He felt
a celestial atmosphere enfolding him, and
tremblingly he began to anticipate, now that
earth's joys had come, the glories of heaven
Then Abbot Hans marked how all grew still ;
the birds hushed their songs, the flowers ceased
growing, and the young foxes played no more.
The glory now nearing was such that the heart
wanted to stop beating; the eyes wept without
one 's knowing it ; the soul longed to soar away
into the Eternal. From far in the distance
faint harp tones were heard, and celestial song,
like a soft murmur, reached him.
Abbot Hans clasped his hands and dropped
to his knees. His face was radiant with bliss.
Never had he dreamed that even in this life it
should be granted him to taste the joys of
198 Christmas in Legend and Story^
heaven, and to hear angels sing Christmas
But beside Abbot Hans stood the lay brother
who had accompanied him. In his mind there
were dark thoughts. '' This cannot be a true
miracle," he thought, '' since it is revealed to
malefactors. This does not come from God,
but has its origin in witchcraft and is sent
hither by Satan. It is the Evil One^s power
that is tempting us and compelling us to see
that which has no real existence.'^
From afar were heard the sound of angel
harps and the tones of a Miserere. But the lay
brother thought it was the evil spirits of hell
coming closer. '' They would enchant and se-
duce us," sighed he, '' and we shall be sold into
perdition. ' '
The angel throng was so near now that
Abbot Hans saw their bright forms through
the forest branches. The lay brother sa^
them, too ; but back of all this wondrous beauty
he saw only some dread evil. For him it was
the devil who performed these wonders on the
anniversary of our Saviour's birth. It was
done simply for the purpose of more effec-
tually deluding poor human beings.
The Legend of the Christmas Rose 199
All the while the birds had been circling
around the head of Abbot Hans, and they let
him take them in his hands. But all the ani-
mals were afraid of the lay brother; no bird
perched on his shoulder, no snake played at
his feet. Then there came a little forest dove.
When she marked that the angels were near-
ing, she plucked up courage and flew down on
the lay brother's shoulder and laid her head
against his cheek.
Then it appeared to him as if sorcery were
come right upon him, to tempt and corrupt
him. He struck with his hand at the forest
dove and cried in such a loud voice that it rang
throughout the forest, ^' Go thou back to hell,
whence thou art come! "
Just then the angels were so near that Abbot
Hans felt the feathery touch of their great
wings, and he bowed down to earth in reverent
But when the lay brother's words sounded,
their song was hushed and the holy guests
turned in flight. At the same time the light
and the mild warmth vanished in unspeakable
terror for the darkness and cold in a human
heart. Darkness sank over the earth, like a
200 Christmas in Legend and Story
coverlet ; frost came, all tlie growths shrivelled
up ; the animals and birds hastened away ; the
rushing of streams was hushed; the leaves
dropped from the trees, rustling like rain.
Abbot Hans felt how his heart, which had
but lately swelled with bliss, was now contract-
ing with insufferable agony. '^ I can never
outlive this,'' thought he, ** that the angels
from heaven had been so close to me and were
driven away; that they wanted to sing Christ-
mas carols for me and were driven to flight."
Then he remembered the flower he had prom-
ised Bishop Absalon, and at the last moment
he fumbled among the leaves and moss to try
and find a blossom. But he sensed how the
ground under his fingers froze and how the
white snow came gliding over the ground.
Then his heart caused him ever greater an-
guish. He could not rise, but fell prostrate
on the ground and lay there.
When the robber folk and the lay brother
had groped their way back to the cave, they
missed Abbot Hans. They took brands with
them and went out to search for him. They
found him dead upon the coverlet of snow.
Then the lay brother began weeping and la-
The Legend of the Christmas Rose 201
meriting, for he understood that it was he who
had killed Abbot Hans because he had dashed
from him the cup of happiness which he had
been thirsting to drain to its last drop.
When Abbot Hans had been carried down to
Ovid, those who took charge of the dead saw
that he held his right hand locked tight around
something which he must have grasped at the
moment of death. When they finally got his
hand open, they found that the thing which he
had held in such an iron grip was a pair of
white root bulbs, which he had torn from
among the moss and leaves.
When the lay brother who had accompanied
Abbot Hans saw the bulbs, he took them and
planted them in Abbot Hans' herb garden.
He guarded them the whole year to see if
any flower would spring from them. But in
vain he waited through the spring, the sum-
mer, and the autumn. Finally, when winter
had set in and all the leaves and the flowers
were dead, he ceased caring for them.
But when Christmas Eve came again, he was
so strongly reminded of Abbot Hans that he
wandered out into the garden to think of him.
202 Christmas in Legend and Story
And look ! as lie came to the spot where he had
planted the bare root bulbs, he saw that from
them had sprung flourishing green stalks,
which bore beautiful flowers with silver white
He called out all the monks at Ovid, and
when they saw that this plant bloomed on
Christmas Eve, when all the other growths
were as if dead, they understood that this
flower had in truth been plucked by Abbot
Hans from the Christmas garden in Goinge
forest. Then the lay brother asked the monks
if he might take a few blossoms to Bishop
And when he appeared before Bishop Ab-
salon, he gave him the flowers and said:
** Abbot Hans sends you these. They are the
flowers he promised to pick for you from the
garden in Goinge forest.''
When Bishop Absalon beheld the flowers,
which had sprung from the earth in darkest
winter, and heard the words, he turned as pale
as if he had met a ghost. He sat in silence
a moment; thereupon he said, '^ Abbot Hans
has faithfully kept his word and I shall also
keep mine.'' And he ordered that a letter of
The Legend of the Christmas Rose 203
ransom be drawn up for the wild robber who
was outlawed and had been forced to live in
the forest ever since his youth.
He handed the letter to the lay brother, who
departed at once for the Eobbers ' Cave. When
he stepped in there on Christmas Day, the
robber came toward him with axe uplifted.
*^ I'd like to hack you monks into bits, as many
as you are ! ' ' said he. * * It must be your fault
that Goinge forest did not last night dress
itself in Christmas bloom.''
*^ The fault is mine alone," said the lay
brother, * * and I will gladly die for it ; but first
I must deliver a message from Abbot Hans."
And he drew forth the Bishop's letter and told
the man that he was free. ^* Hereafter you
and your children shall play in the Christmas
straw and celebrate your Christmas among
people, just as Abbot Hans wished to have it,"
Then Eobber Father stood there pale and
speechless, but Robber Mother said in his
name, ** Abbot Hans has indeed kept his word,
and Robber Father will keep his."
When the robber and his wife left the cave,
the lay brother moved in and lived all alone in
204 Christmas in Legend and Story
the forest, in constant meditation and prayer
that his hard-heartedness might be forgiven
But Goinge forest never again celebrated the
hour of our Saviour's birth; and of all its
glory, there lives to-day only the plant which
Abbot Hans had plucked. It has been named
CHRISTMAS EOSE. And each year at
Christmastide she sends forth from the earth
her green stalks and white blossoms, as if she
never could forget that she had once grown in
the great Christmas garden at Goinge forest.
A veey long while ago, perhaps as many as
two hundred years, the little Provengal village
of Sur Varne was all bustle and stir, for it was
the week before Christmas ; and always, in all
the world, no one has known better how to keep
the joyous holiday than have the happy-
hearted people of Provence, the southeastern
corner of France.
Everybody was busy, hurrying to and fro,
gathering garlands of myrtle and laurel, bring-
ing home their Yule logs with pretty old songs
and ceremonies, and in various ways making
ready for the all-important festival.
Not a house in Sur Varne but in some man-
ner told the coming of the blessed birthday,
and especially were there great preparations
in the cottage of the shepherd, Pere Michaud.
This cottage, covered with white stucco, and
thatched with long marsh-grass, stood at the
206 Christmas in Legend and Story
edge of the village; olive and mulberry trees
clustered about it, and a wild jasmine vine
clambered over the doorway, while on this par-
ticular morning all around the low projecting
eaves hung a row of tiny wheat-sheaves,
swinging in the crisp December air, and
twinkling in the sunlight like a golden fringe.
For the Pere Michaud had been up betimes,
making ready the Christmas feast for the
birds, which no Provengal peasant ever forgets
at this gracious season; and the birds knew
it, for already dozens of saucy robins and lin-
nets and fieldfares were gathering in the Pere 's
mulberry-trees, their mouths fairly watering
Within the cottage the good dame, the Mise
Michaud, with wide sleeves rolled up and kirtle
tucked back, was hard at work making all
manner of savory goodies, while in the huge
oven beside the blazing hearth the great
Christmas cakes were baking, the famous
pompou and fougasse, as they were called,
dear to the hearts of the children of old Pro-
Now and then, as the cottage door swung
open on the dame's various cookery errands.
one might hear a faint * ^ Baa, baa I ' ' from the
sheepfold, where little Felix Michaud was very
Through the crevices of its weather-beaten
boards came the sound of vigorous scrubbing
of wool, and sometimes an impatient ^* Ni-
nette ! Ninette ! — thou silly sheep ! Wilt thou
never stand still? '' Or else, in a softer tone,
an eager *^ Beppo, my little Beppo, dost thou
know? Dost thou know? " To all of which
there would come no answer save the lamb's
weak little ** Baa, baa! "
For Ninette, Beppo 's mother, was a silly old
sheep, and Beppo was a very young little lamb,
and so they could not possibly be expected to
know what a great honor had suddenly befallen
them. They did not dream that, the night
before, Pere Michaud had told Felix that his
Beppo (for Beppo was Felix's very own) had
been chosen by the shepherds for the '' offered
lamb '' of the Christmas Eve procession in all
its festival splendor in the great church of the
Of the importance of this procession in the
eyes of the peasant folk I will tell you more
by and by; it is enough to say now that to be
208 Christmas in Legend and Story
the offered lamb, or indeed the offered lamb's
mother, for both always went together, was the
greatest honor and glory that could possibly
happen to a Provengal sheep, and so little
Felix was fairly bursting with pride and de-
light. And so it was, too, that he was now
busying himself washing their wool, which he
determined should shine like spun silver on the
He tugged away, scrubbing and brushing and
combing the thick fleeces, and at last, after
much labor, considered their toilets done for
the day; then, giving each a handful of fresh
hay to nibble, he left the fold and trudged into
^'Well, little one,'' said the Mise, ^^ hast
thou finished thy work? "
** Yes, mother," answered Felix; ^* and I
shall scrub them so each day till the holy
night ! Even now Ninette is white as milk, and
Beppo shines like an angel ! Ah, but I shall be
proud when he rides up to the altar in his little
cart! And, mother, dost thou not really think
him far handsomer than was Jean's lamb, that
stupid Nano, in the procession last year? "
** There, there," said the Mise, ** never thou
mind about Jean's lamb, but ruQ along now
and finish thy creche.''
Now, in Provence, at the time when Felix
lived, no one had ever heard of such a thing
as a Christmas tree; but in its stead every
cottage had a ^^ creche "; that is, in one corner
of the great living-room, the room of the fire-
place, the peasant children and their fathers
and mothers built up on a table a mimic village
of Bethlehem, with houses and people and ani-
mals, and, above all, with the manger, where
the Christ Child lay. Everyone took the great-
est pains to make the creche as perfect as pos-
sible, and some even went so far as to fasten
tiny angels to the rafters, so that they hovered
over the toy houses like a flock of white butter-
flies; and sometimes a gold star, hung on a
golden thread, quivered over the little man-
ger, in memory of the wonderful star of the
In the Michaud cottage the creche was al-
ready well under way. In the corner across
from the fireplace the Pere had built up a
mound, and this Felix had covered with bits of
rock and tufts of grass, and little green boughs
for trees, all to represent the rocky hillside of
210 Christmas in Legend and Story
Judea; then, half-way up, he began to place
the tiny houses. These he had cut out of wood
and adorned with wonderful carving, in which,
indeed, he was very skilful. And then, such
figures as he had made, such quaint little men
and women, such marvelous animals, camels
and oxen and sheep and horses, were never
before seen in Sur Yarne. But the figure on
which he had lavished his utmost skill was that
of the little Christ Child, which was not to be
placed in the manger until Christmas night
Felix kept this figure in his blouse pocket,
carefully wrapped up in a bit of wool, and he
spent all his spare moments striving to give it
some fresh beauty ; for I will tell you a secret :
poor little Felix had a great passion for carv-
ing, and the one thing for which he longed
above all others was to be allowed to appren-
tice himself in the workshop of Pere Videau,
who was the master carver of the village, and
whose beautiful work on the portals of the
great church was the admiration of Felix's
heart. He longed, too, for better tools than
the rude little knife he had, and for days and
years in which to learn to use them.
But the Pere Midland had scant patience
with these notions of the little son's, and once,
when Felix had ventured to speak to him about
it, had insisted rather sharply that he was to
stick to his sheep-tending, so that when the
Pere himself grew old he could take charge of
the flocks and keep the family in bread; for
the Pere had small faith in the art of the carver
as being able to supply the big brown loaves
that the Mise baked every week in the great
stone oven. So Felix was obliged to go on
minding the flocks; but whenever he had a
moment of his own, he employed it in carving
a bit of wood or chipping at a fragment of soft
But while I have stopped to tell you all this
he had almost finished the creche; the little
houses were all in place, and the animals
grouped about the holy stable, or else seeming
to crop the tufts of moss on the mimic rocky
'' Well, well! '' said the Pere Michaud, who
had just entered the cottage, '* 't is a fine bit
of work thou hast there, my son! Truly 't is
a brave creche! "
But here the Mise called them both to the
212 Christmas in Legend and Story
midday meal, which she had spread smoking
hot on the shining deal table.
When this was finished Felix arose, and, as
the Pere wished, once more went out to the
fold to see how the sheep, and especially his
little Beppo, were faring.
As he pushed open the swinging door, Ni-
nette, who was lazily dozing with her toes
doubled np under her fleece, blinked her eyes
and looked sleepily around; but Beppo was
nowhere to be seen.
' ' Ninette ! ' ^ demanded Felix fiercely,
'^ what hast thou done with my Beppo? '*
At this Ninette peered about in a dazed sort
of way, and gave an alarmed little '^ Baa! '*
for she had not before missed Beppo, who,
while she was asleep, had managed to push
open the door of the fold and scamper off, no
one knew just where.
Felix gazed around in dismay when he real-
ized that his lamb, the chosen one, who had
brought such pride and honor to him — that
this was gone !
^^ Beppo!" he shouted at the top of his
lungs, '^ Beppo! Beppo-o! "
But no trace could he see of the little bundle
of fleece lie had scrubbed and combed so care-
fully that morning.
He stood irresolute a moment; then, think-
ing that if Beppo really were running off, not
a second was to be lost, he set out at a brisk
pace across the sheep-meadow. He had no
idea in what direction the truant lamb would
be likely to stray, but on he went, calling every
little while in a shrill voice, ^ * Beppo ! ' ' Now
and then he fancied that he saw in the distance
a glimpse of white; but once it proved the
Mise Fouchard's linen hung to dry on a cur-
rant-bush, and again it was a great white stone
— but no Beppo; and all the while Felix kept
on, quite forgetting that Beppo 's weak, woolly
legs could not possibly have carried him so
great a distance.
By and by he had left the village meadows
far behind, and was skirting the great marsh.
Sometimes he shaded his eyes with his hand
and looked far across this low wet land to see
if perhaps Beppo had strayed into its uncer-
tain foothold ; but nothing could he see but the
waving rushes and the tall bitterns wading
about on long, yellow legs.
And still he pressed heedlessly on farther
214 Christmas in Legend and Story
and farther, till, after a while, he found him-
self thrusting through a thick coppice of wil-
low boughs. ^* Oh,*' thought Felix, " what if
poor Beppo has strayed into this woodland! "
And tired as he was, he urged himself on,
searching among the trees; and it was not
until he had wandered on and on, deeper and
deeper into the wood, that he realized that the
dusk had fallen, and that he must be a very,
very long way from Sur Varne.
Felix then began to grow uneasy. He stood
still and looked anxiously about him; the dark
forest trees closed around him on all sides, and
he was quite unable to remember from which
direction he had entered the wood.
Now, Felix was really a very brave little
fellow, but he fairly quaked as he peered
through the gathering darkness; for in those
days the forests of Provence were known to
harbor many dangerous animals, especially
wild boars and wolves. He pricked up his ears,
and now and then thought he heard in the dis-
tance the stealthy tread of some four-footed
forest prowler, and once he was sure he caught
the deep howl of a wolf.
That ended his hesitation. He looked
quickly around, and grasping the low boughs
of a slender sapling, managed to swing himself
up into a tall chestnut-tree that grew close
by; and there he clung, clutching the thick
branches with might and main, feeling very
cold and hungry and miserable, his heart all
the while sinking clear down into his little
And indeed he had cause for fear, for, not
a great while after he had thus hidden himself,
a gaunt wolf really did pass close by, sniffing
and peering, till poor Felix fairly gave up all
hope of escaping from the tree; but, luckily,
the wolf did not see him, and at last slowly
crept on through the underwood.
How long the little boy stayed in the peril-
ous shelter of the chestnut-tree he never knew,
but it seemed untold ages to him. After a
while the moon rose, and shed a faint light
through the close-lapping branches; and then,
by and by, Felixes ears, strained to listen for
every lightest sound, caught the echo of distant
tramping, as of horses' hoofs, and presently
two horsemen came in sight, picking their
way cautiously along a narrow bridle-path.
He did not know whom they might prove to
216 Christmas in Legend and Story
be, but wisely thinking that anything would be
better than staying in a tree all night at the
mercy of hungry wolves, he waited till the first
rider came quite close, and then he plucked up
courage to call out faintly: ** Oh, sir, stop, I
pray thee ! ' '
At this, the rider, who was none other than
the noble Count Bernard of Bois Varne,
quickly drew rein and, turning, called to his
*^ Ho, Brian! Heardest thou aught! "
^' Nay, my lord,'' answered Brian, who was
some paces behind, '^ naught save the tram-
pling of our own horses' hoofs."
The count looked all around, and seeing
nothing, thought himself mistaken in the
sound, and began to pace on. Then Felix, in
terror, gave another shout, this time louder,
and at the same moment a little twig he was
pressing with his elbow broke away and
dropped, striking against the count's stirrup;
for the bridle-path wound directly under the
tree where Felix was perched.
The count instantly checked his horse again,
and, peering up into the boughs overhead, he
caught sight of Felix, his yellow hair wet with
dew and shining in the moonlight, and his dark
eyes wide with fear.
' ' Heigh-ho ! ' ' exclaimed the count, in blank
amazement. ^* Upon my word, now! what art
thou — boy or goblin? '^
At this Felix gave a little sob, for he was
very tired and very cold. He hugged the tree
tightly, and, steadying himself against the
boughs, at last managed to falter out : ' ' Please
thee, sir, I am Felix Michaud, and my lamb
Beppo, who was to ride in the Christmas pro-
cession, ran off to-day, and — and — I have
been hunting him, I think, ever since — since
yesterday! '' Here poor Felix grew a trifle be-
wildered; it seemed to him so very long ago
since he had set out in search of Beppo. * * And
I live in Sur Varne."
At this the count gave a long whistle. '* At
Sur Varne! '' he exclaimed. '^ If thou speak-
est truly, my little man, thou hast indeed a
sturdy pair of legs to have carried thee thus
far.'* And he eyed curiously Felix's dusty
little feet and leathern leggings, dangling
limply from the bough above him. '' Dost
thou know how far distant is Sur Varne from
this forest? "
218 Christmas in Legend and Story
** Nay, sir/^ answered Felix; '' but I trow
't is a great way. ' '
a There thou art right," said the count;
* * 't is a good two leagues, if it is a pace. But
how now? Thou canst not bide here to become
the prey of hungry wolves, my little night-owl
9f the yellow hair! ''
And thereupon Count Bernard dexterously
raised himself in his stirrups, and, reaching
upward, caught Felix in his arms and swung
him down plump on the saddle-bow in front of
him; then, showing him how to steady himself
by holding the pommel, he turned to Brian, his
squire, who while all this was going on had
stood by in silent astonishment, and giving the
order to move, the little cavalcade hastened on
at a rapid pace in order to get clear of the for-
est as quickly as possible.
Meantime the Count Bernard, who was really
a very kind and noble lord, and who lived in a
beautiful castle on the farther verge of the for-
est, quite reassured Felix by talking to him
kindly, and telling him of the six days' journey
from which he and his squire Brian were just
returning, and how they had been delayed on
the way until nightfall.
** And, by my faith! '' said Count Bernard,
*^ thou shalt sleep this night in the strong
castle of Bois Varne, with not even a mouse to
fret thy yellow head; and, what is more, thou
shalt see the fairest little maid that ever thou
hast set eyes on! ''
And then he told him of his little daughter,
the Lady Elinor, and how she would play with
Felix and show him the castle, and how on the
morrow they would see about sending him
home to Sur Varne.
And all the while the count was talking they
were trotting briskly onward, till by and by
they emerged from the forest and saw tower-
ing near at hand the castle of Bois Varne. The
tall turrets shone and shimmered in the moon-
light, and over the gateway of the drawbridge
hung a lighted cresset — that is, a beautiful
wrought-iron basket, in which blazed a ruddy
torch of oil to light them on their way.
At sight of this the count and Brian spurred
on their horses, and were soon clattering across
the bridge and into the great paved courtyard.
The count flung his bridle to a little page who
hastened out to meet him, and then, springing
from his saddle, lightly lifted Felix and swung
220 Christmas in Legend and Story
him to the ground. He took the boy by the
hand and led him into the great hall of the
To Felix this looked marvelously beautiful.
Christmas garlan-ds of myrtle hung on the
walls, and a great pile of freshly cut laurel
boughs lay on a bench, ready for the morrow's
arranging. But that which took his eyes most
of all was the lovely carving everywhere to be
seen. The benches and tables were covered
with it ; the wainscot of the spacious room was
richly adorned; and over and about the wide
fireplace great carved dragons of stone curled
their long tails and spread their wings through
a maze of intricate traceries. Felix was en-
chanted, and gazed around till his eyes fairly
Presently in came running a little girl, laugh-
ing with delight. Bounding up into Count
Bernard's arms, she hugged and kissed him in
true Provengal fashion. Then, catching sight
of Felix, *^ Ah, mon pere,'' she exclaimed,
^* and where foundest thou thy pretty new
** Nay, sweetheart," answered the count,
looking down at Felix's yellow hair; ** 't is no
page, but a little goldfinch we found perched
in a chestnut-tree as we rode through the
forest. ' ^
Then, smiling at the Lady Elinor's bewilder-
ment, he told her the little boy's story, and she
at once slipped down and greeted him kindly.
Then, clapping her hands with pleasure at find-
ing a new playmate, she declared he must come
and see the Christmas creche which she was
just finishing. She seized him by the hand and
hastened across the hall, where her creche was
built up on a carved bench. The poor little
Lady Elinor had no mother, and her father, the
count, had been gone for several days; and
while in the castle were no end of serving men
and women and retainers, yet none of these
presumed to dictate to the little mistress, and
so she had put her creche together in a very
** There!" said she, ''what thinkest thou
of it, Felix? Of a truth, I fancy somewhat is
wanting, yet I know not how to better it! "
*' Yes," said Felix, bashfully; '' it may be
I can help thee."
And so he set to work rearranging the little
houses and figures, till he succeeded in giving
222 Christmas in Legend and Story
quite a lifelike air to the creche, and Lady
Elinor fairly danced with delight.
While placing the little manger he happened
to remember the figure of the Christ Child still
in his blouse pocket; this he timidly took out
and showed the little girl, who was charmed,
and still more so when he drew forth a small
wooden sheep and a dog, which were also in
the same pocket.
The Lady Elinor was so carried away with
joy that she flew to the side of the count, and,
grasping both his hands, dragged him across
the room to show him the creche and the won-
derful figures carved by Felix.
*^ See, mon pere! " said Elinor, ^* see this,
and this ! ' ' And she held up the little carvings
for the count's inspection.
Count Bernard, who had good-naturedly
crossed the room to please his little daughter,
now opened his eyes wide with surprise. He
took the little figures she handed him and ex-
amined them closely, for he was a good judge
of artistic work of this kind. Then he looked
at Felix, and at length he said:
** Well, little forest bird, who taught thee
the carver's craft? ''
** No one, sir," faltered Felix; ^* indeed, I
wish, above all things, to learn of the Pere
Videau, the master carver ; but my father says
I must be a shepherd, as he is/'
Here a tear rolled down Felix's cheek, for
you must remember he was terribly tired.
*^ Well, well," said the count, ^* never mind!
Thou art weary, little one ; we will talk of this
more on the morrow. 'T is high time now that
both of you were sound asleep. Hey, there!
Jean! Jacques! Come hither and take care
of this little lad, and see to it that he hath a
soft bed and a feather pillow ! ' '
The next morning the children ate a merry
breakfast together, and after it Count Bernard
took Felix aside and asked him many questions
of his life and his home. Then, by and by,
knowing how anxious the boy's parents would
be, he ordered his trusty squire, Brian, to
saddle a horse and conduct Felix back to Sur
Meantime the little Lady Elinor begged hard
that he stay longer in the castle for her play-
fellow, and was quite heartbroken when she
saw the horse stand ready in the courtyard.
Indeed, she would not be satisfied until her
224 Christmas in Legend and Story
father, the count, who could not bear to see
her unhappy, had promised to some day take
her over to see Felix in Sur Varne. Then she
smiled, and made a pretty farewell courtesy,
and suddenly snatching from her dark hair a
crimson ribbon of Lyons taifeta, she tied it
about Felix's sleeve, declaring, " There! thou
must keep this token, and be my little knight ! ' '
for the Lady Elinor had many lofty notions in
her small curly head.
Felix could only stammer out an embar-
rassed good-by, for in the presence of this
lively little maid he found himself quaking
more than when he feared the terrible wolves
of the forest. In another moment Brian lifted
him to the saddle, and, springing up behind,
took the bridle-rein, and off they went.
When, after several hours' riding, they drew
near Sur Varne, Felix showed Brian the way
to the Michaud cottage, and you can fancy how
overjoyed were the Pere and Mise to see the
travelers; for they had been fairly beside
themselves with grief, and had searched all
night for their little son.
Of course almost the first question Felix
asked was about Beppo, and he felt a great
load taken off his mind when he learned that
the little truant, who had not really strayed
very far from the village, had been found and
brought home by one of the shepherds, and was
even then penned up safe and sound in the
After a good night ^s sleep Felix was quite
rested from his journey, and was busy the next
day in helping garland the Yule log, in giving
Ninette and Beppo an extra scrubbing and
brushing, and in all the final happy prepara-
tions for the great holiday.
And so Christmas Eve came. It was a lovely
starlit night, and on, all sides one could hear
the beautiful Christmas songs of old Provence
that all the peasants and the children sang as
they trooped along the roads on their way to
the great church of the village; for thither
every one flocked as the expected hour drew
Then presently the stately service began,
and went on with song and incense, and the
sweet chanting of children's voices, till sud-
denly from the upper tower of the church a
joyous peal of bells rang in the midnight ! And
all at once, through the dense throng of wor-
226 Christmas in Legend and Story
shipers nearest the door a pathway opened,
and in came four peasants playing on pipes
and flutes and flageolets a quaint old air made
up three hundred years before by good King
Eene for just such a ceremony as was to
After the pipers walked ten shepherds, two
by two, each wearing a long brown cloak, and
carrying a staif and lighted candle ; that is, all
save the first two, and these bore, one a basket
of fruit, the melons and grapes and pears of
sunny Provence, while the other held in his
hands a pair of pretty white pigeons with rose-
colored eyes and soft, fluttering wings.
And then, behind the shepherds came — what
do you suppose! — Ninette! Ninette, her
fleece shining like snow, a garland of laurel
and myrtle about her neck, and twigs of holly
nodding behind her ears, while bound about her
woolly shoulders a little harness of scarlet
leather shone against the white with dazzling
effect; and fastened to the harness, and trun-
dling along at Ninette's heels, came the gayest
of little wooden carts. It was painted in the
brightest colors. Its wheels were wrapped with
garlands, and in it, curled up in a fat fleecy
ball, lay Beppo ! Tied about his neck in a huge
bow was a crimson ribbon of Lyons taffeta,
with a sprig of holly tucked into its loops.
Beppo lay quite still, looking about him with
a bewildered, half-dazed expression, and just
behind his cart came ten more shepherds with
staffs and candles, while following them was a
great throng of peasant folk and children
(among them Felix), all carrying lighted ta-
pers, and radiant with delight; for this was
the Procession of the Offered Lamb, and to
walk in its train was considered by all as the
greatest honor and privilege.
And especially did the shepherd folk love
the beautiful old custom which for centuries
the people of Provence had cherished from year
to year in memory of the time, long ago, when
the real Christ Child lay in the manger of
Bethlehem, and the shepherds of Judea sought
him out to worship him, and to offer him their
fruits and lambs as gifts.
And so on up the long aisle the procession
slowly moved, the pipers playing, and Ninette
marching solemnly along, only now and then
pausing to thrust her nose between the Pere
Michaud and his companion, who walked di
228 Christmas in Legend and Story
rectly in front of her. Ninette pattered on as
if she had trod the floors of churches all her
life; and as for Beppo, only once did he stir,
and then he gave a faint ** Baa! '^ and tried
to uncnrl himself and stand up; but just then
the queer little cart gave a joggle which quite
upset his shaky lamb legs, and down he sank,
and kept quiet throughout the rest of the time.
After the service the players again struck
up King Eene's tune, and the procession, shep-
herds, Ninette, Beppo, peasants, and all, once
more moved on, this time down the outer aisle
and toward the great open portal. _^^
It took some time for the last of its followers
to reach the doorway, for the throng was very
great; but at length Felix, who had marched
with the children in the last group, came to the
threshold and stepped out into the starry night.
He stood for a moment smiling and gazing
aimlessly ahead, overwhelmed with the glory
of all that had passed within the church, when
presently he felt some one pluck his sleeve, and
turning round, he met the dancing eyes of the
little Lady Elinor.
She gave a little peal of laughter at his sur-
prise, and exclaimed : ^ * Oh, I coaxed mon pere,
the count, to fetch me hither for this blessed
night. Thou knowest he promised ! I rode my
white palfrey all the way by the side of his big
brown horse. And I have seen the procession,
and Beppo with my red ribbon round his
neck.^' Here she gave another little gurgle of
delight. ** And oh, Felix, my father hath seen
thine, and 't is all settled! Thou art to be a
famous carver with the Pere Videau, as thou
wishest '' (for the Lady Elinor had unbounded
faith in Felix's powers); ^^ and, Felix,'' she
added, ^' I trow 't was the little Christ Child
for thy creche that did it ! "
Then, with a merry little smile, she darted
off to her father, the Count Bernard, who was
waiting for her down the church path.
For a little while after she had gone Felix
did not move, but stood as one in a dream.
Presently a loud bleat close at his side startled
him, and, looking down, he saw that Ninette,
decked in her gay garlands, and still dragging
the be-ribboned Beppo in the little cart, had
broken away from the Pere Michaud and come
close up to himself.
Then, with a sudden movement, he stooped
over, and, seizing Beppo in both arms, hugged
230 Christmas in Legend and Story
and squeezed Mm till poor Beppo squeaked
with surprise, and opened his red mouth and
fairly gasped for breath. But Felix only
hugged him the harder, murmuring under his
breath, ' ' Bless thy little heart, Beppo ! Bless
thy little heart ! ' ' For in a vague way he real-
ized that the truant lamb had somehow brought
him his heart's desire, and that was quite
enough Christmas happiness for one year.
And the little Lady Elinor was right, too.
Years after, when Felix grew to be a man, he
did, in very truth, become a ' ' famous carver, ' '
as she had declared.
Far surpassing his first master, the Pere
Videau, he traveled and worked in many cities ;
yet never, through all his long life, did he for-
get that Christmas Eve in the little village of
Those who knew him best said that among
his dearest treasures he always kept a beauti-
fully carved little box, and in it a bit of faded
crimson ribbon from the looms of Lyons.
While, as for Beppo — well, if ever some happy
day you chance to visit the lovely land of Pro-
vence, perhaps you will see a certain grand old
cathedral in the ancient city of Aries; and, if
you do, look sharp at the figure of a lamb
chiseled in white stone over the great portal.
Look well, I say, for Felix, when he carved it,
would have told you that he was thinking all
the while of his little pet lamb Beppo.
THE SABOT OF LITTLE WOLFF
Once upon a time, — it was so long ago that
the whole world has forgotten the date, — in a
city in the north of Europe, whose name is so
difficult to pronounce that nobody remembers
it, — once upon a time there was a little boy of
seven, named Wolff. He was an orphan in *
charge of an old aunt who was hard and ava-
ricious, who only kissed him on New Year's
Day, and who breathed a sigh of regret every
time that she gave him a porringer of soup.
But the poor little lad was naturally so good
that he loved his aunt just the same, although
she frightened him very much; and he could
never see her without trembling, for fear she
would whip him.
As the aunt of Wolff was known through all
the village to have a house and an old stocking
full of gold, she did not dare send her nephew
The Sabot of Little Wolff 233
to the school for the poor, but she obtained a
reduction of the price with the schoolmaster
whose school little Wolff attended. The
teacher, vexed at having a scholar so badly
dressed and who paid so poorly, often punished
him unjustly, and even set his fellow-pupils
The poor little fellow was therefore as mis-
erable as the stones in the street, and hid him-
self in out-of-the-way corners to cry when
The night before Christmas the schoolmaster
was to take all of his pupils to church, and
bring them back to their homes. As the winter
was very severe that year, and as for several
days a great quantity of snow had fallen, the
children came to the master ^s house warmly
wrapped and bundled up, with fur caps pulled
down over their ears, double and triple jackets,
knitted gloves and mittens, and good, thick-
nailed boots wj-th strong soles. Only little
Wolff came shivering in the clothes that he
wore week-days and Sundays, and with nothing
on his feet but coarse Strasbourg socks and
heavy sabots, or wooden shoes.
His thoughtless comrades made a thousand
234 Christmas in Legend and Story
jests over his forlorn looks and his peasant's
dress; hut little Wolff was so occupied in
blowing on his fingers to keep them warm, that
he took no notice of the boys or what they said.
The troop of boys, with their master at their
head, started for the church. As they went
they talked of the fine suppers that were wait-
ing them at home. The son of the burgomaster
had seen, before he went out, a monstrous
goose that the truffles marked with black spots
like a leopard. At the house of one of the boys
chere was a little fir tree in a wooden box, from
whose branches hung oranges, sweetmeats and
The children spoke, too, of what the Christ-
child would bring to them, and what he would
put in their shoes, which they would, of course,
be very careful to leave in the chimney before
going to bed. And the eyes of those little boys,
lively as a parcel of mice, sparkled in advance
with the joy of seeing in their imagination pink
paper bags filled with cakes, lead soldiers
drawn up in battalions in their boxes, menag-
eries smelling of varnished wood, and mag-
nificent jumping-jacks covered with purple and
The Sabot of Little Wolff 235
Little Wolff knew very well by experience
that his old aunt would send him supperless to
bed ; but, knowing that all the year he had been
as good and industrious as possible, he hoped
that the Christ-child would not forget him, and
he, too, looked eagerly forward to putting his
wooden shoes in the ashes of the fireplace.
When the service was ended, every one went
away, anxious for his supper, and the band of
children, walking two by two after their
teacher, left the church.
In the porch, sitting on a stone seat under a
Gothic niche, a child was sleeping — a child
who was clad in a robe of white linen, and
whose feet were bare, notwithstanding the cold.
He was not a beggar, for his robe was new and
fresh, and near him on the ground was seen
a square, a hatchet, a pair of compasses, and
the other tools of a carpenter's apprentice.
Under the light of the stars, his face bore an
expression of divine sweetness, and his long
locks of golden hair seemed like an aureole
about his head. But the child's feet, blue in
the cold of that December night, were sad to
The children, so well clothed and shod for the
236 Christmas in Legend and Story
winter, passed heedlessly before the unknown
child. One of them, the son of one of the prin-
cipal men in the village, looked at the waif with
an expression in which no pity could be seen.
But little Wolff, coming the last out of the
church, stopped, full of compassion, before the
beautiful sleeping child. ^ ' Alas ! ' ^ said the
orphan to himself, * ^ it is too bad that this poor
little one has to go barefoot in such bad
weather. But what is worse than all, he has
not even a boot or a wooden shoe to leave be-
fore him while he sleeps to-night, so that the
Christ-child could put something there to com-
fort him in his misery."
And, carried away by the goodness of his
heart, little Wolif took off the wooden shoe
from his right foot, and laid it in front of the
sleeping child. Then, limping along on his
poor blistered foot and dragging his sock
through the snow, he went back to his aunt's
** Look at that worthless fellow! '' cried his
aunt, full of anger at his return without one of
his shoes. *^ What have you done with your
wooden shoe, little wretch? ''
Little Wolff did not know how to deceive,
The Sabot of Little Wolf 237
and although he was shaking with terror, he
tried to stammer out some account of his ad-
The old woman burst into a frightful peal
of laughter. ^^ Ah, monsieur takes off his
shoes for beggars! Ah, monsieur gives away
his wooden shoes to a barefoot ! This is some-
thing new! Ah, well, since that is so, I am
going to put the wooden shoe which you have
left in the chimney, and I promise you the
Christ-child will leave there to-night something
to whip you with in the morning. And you
shall pass the day to-morrow on dry bread and
water. We will see if next time you give away
your shoe to the first vagabond that comes.''
Then the aunt, after having given the poor
boy a couple of slaps, made him climb up to his
bed in the attic. Grieved to the heart, the child
went to bed in the dark, and soon went to
sleep, his pillow wet with tears.
On the morrow morning, when the old
woman went downstairs — oh, wonderful sight !
— she saw the great chimney full of beautiful
playthings, and sacks of magnificent candies,
and all sorts of good things; and before all
these splendid things the right shoe, that her
238 Christmas in Legend and Story
nephew had given to the little waif, stood by
the side of the left shoe, that she herself had
put there that very night, and where she meant
to put a birch rod.
As little Wolff, running down to learn the
meaning of his aunt's exclamation, stood in
artless ecstasy before all these splendid gifts,
suddenly there were loud cries and laughter
out of doors. The old woman and the little
boy went out to know what it all meant, and
saw the neighbors gathered around the public
fountain. What had happened! Oh, some-
thing very amusing and extraordinary! The
children of all the rich people of the village,
those whose parents had wished to surprise
them with the most beautiful gifts, had found
only rods in their shoes.
Then the orphan and the old woman, think-
ing of all the beautiful things that were in their
chimney, were full of amazement. But pres-
ently they saw the cure coming toward them,
with wonder in his face. In the church porch,
where in the evening a child, clad in a white
robe, and with bare feet, had rested his sleep-
ing head, the cure had just seen a circle of gold
incrusted with precious stones.
The Sabot of Little Wolff 239
Then the people understood that the beauti-
ful sleeping child, near whom were the carpen-
ter's tools, was the Christ-child in person, be-
come for an hour such as he was when he
worked in his parents' house, and they bowed
themselves before that miracle that the good
God had seen fit to work, to reward the faith
and charity of a child.
THE LITTLE FRIEND
Abbie Fabwell Brown
* * Oh ! I am so cold, so cold ! ' ' sobbed little
Pierre, as be stumbled through the snow which
was drifting deep upon the mountain side.
*^ Oh, I am so cold! The snow bites my face
and blinds me, so that I cannot see the road.
Where are all the Christmas candle-lights?
The people of the village must have forgotten.
The little Jesus will lose His way to-night. I
never forgot to set our window at home full
of lights on Christmas Eve. But now it is
Christmas Eve, and there is no home any more.
And I am so cold, so cold! '*
Little Pierre sobbed again and stumbled in
the snow, which was drifting deeper and deeper
upon the mountain side. This was the stormi-
est Christmas Eve which had been seen for
years, and all the little boys who had good
Tha Little Friend 241
homes were hugging themselves close to the
fire, glad that they were not out in the bleak
night. Every window was full of flickering
tapers to light the expected Holy Child upon
His way through the village to the church. But
little Pierre had strayed so far from the road
that he could not see these rows and rows of
tiny earth-stars, any more than he could see
through the snow the far-otf sky-stars which
the angels had lighted along the streets of
Pierre was on his way to the village from
the orphan boys^ home at the Abbe's charity
school. And that was not like a happy real
home, for the little Brothers were rough and
rude and far from loving one another. He had
started at dusk from the school, hoping to be
at the village church before curfew. For
Pierre had a sweet little voice, and he was to
earn a few pennies by singing in the choir on
Christmas morning. But it was growing late.
The church would be closed and the Cure gone
home before Pierre could reach it; and then
what should he do?
The snow whirled faster and faster, and
Pierre's legs found it harder and harder to
242 Christmas in Legend and Story
move themselves through the great drifts.
They seemed heavy and numb, and he was
growing oh, so tired ! If he could but lie down
to sleep until Christmas Day! But he knew
that he must not do that. For those who
choose this kind of soft and tempting bed turn
into ice-people, and do not wake up in the
morning. So he bent his head and tried to
plough on through the drifts.
Whish! A soft white thing flapped through
the snow and struck Pierre in the face, so that
he staggered and almost lost his balance. The
next moment he had caught the thing as it fell
and was holding it tenderly in his numb hands.
It was a beautiful dove, white as the snow from
which it seemed to come. It had been whirled
about by the storm until it had lost strength
to fly, and it now lay quite still, with closed
eyes. Pierre stroked the ruffled feathers
gently and blew upon its cold body, trying to
bring it back to life.
* ' Poor bird ! ' ' he said softly. * * You are
lost in the snow, like me. I will try to keep
you warm, though I am myself a cold little
body.'^ He put the bird under his jacket, hold-
ing it close to his heart. Presently the dove
The. Little Friend 243
opened its eyes and stirred feebly, giving a
faint ^^ Coo! ''
** I wish I had something for you to eat,
poor bird, ' ' said Pierre, forgetting his own cold
and hunger. ^ ^ If I could but take you into my
own house and feed you as I used to feed the
birds upon Christmas Eve! But now I have
no home myself, and I can scarcely keep you
warm. ' '
Pierre shivered and tried to move forward.
But the storm seemed to grow even fiercer, and
the wind blew so keenly in his face that he
could scarcely stand. ^^ I cannot go another
step,'* he said, and down he sank in the snow,
which began to cover him with a downy blan-
ket, pretending to be a careful mother. He
hugged the bird closer and began to feel afraid.
He knew that he was in great danger. ' ' Dear
Dove," he whispered, ^^ I am sorry that I can-
not save you. We shall turn into ice-images
together. But I will keep you warm as long
as I can. ' ' Then he closed his eyes, for he was
In a little while something made Pierre open
his eyes. At first he could see only the whirling
snow, which seemed to be everywhere. But
244 Christmas in Legend and Story
presently he found that some one was bending
over him, with face close to his; some one
chubby and rosy and young, — a child like
himself, but more beautiful than any child
whom Pierre had ever seen. He stared hard
at the face which seemed to smile at him
through the snow, not minding the cold.
*^ You have my dove inside your coat,^' said
the Child, pointing. ** I lost her in the storm.
Give her to me. ' '
Pierre held his coat the closer. *^ She was
cold,'' he answered. ** She was dying in the
snow. I am trying to keep her warm. ' '
** But she is warm when she is with me,
though I have no coat to wrap her in, ' ' said the
Child. And, indeed, he was clad only in a little
shirt, with his rosy legs quite bare. Yet he
looked not cold. A brightness glowed about
him, and his breath seemed to warm the air.
Pierre saw that, though it was still snowing
beyond them, there were no whirling flakes
between him and the Child.
The little Stranger held out his hand once
more. ^* Please give me the dove," he begged.
'* I must hasten on my way to the village
yonder. The dove strayed from my bosom and
The. Little Friend 245
was lost. You found her here, far from the
road. Thank you, little boy. Are you often
so kind to poor lost birds? ''
*^ Why, they are the Lord's own birds!''
cried little Pierre. ** How should one not be
kind and love them dearly I On the Lord's
birthday eve, too! It is little that I could do
for this one, — I who have saved and fed so
many on other Christmas Eves. Alas, I wish
I was back in those good old days of the wheat-
sheaf and the full pan of milk and the bright
warm fire! " Pierre's eyes filled with tears,
'^ What! Did you set a sheaf of wheat for
the birds on Christmas Eve? " asked the Child,
drawing closer and bending kindly eyes upon
Now the boy saw that where the Stranger
stood the snow had melted all away, so that
they were inclosed in a little space like a
downy nest, which seemed almost warm to his
'' Yes, I set out a wheat-sheaf," said Pierre
simply. *^ Why not? I love all the little crea-
tures whom our Lord Himself so dearly loved,
and to whom He bade us be kind. On Christ-
mas Eve especially I always tried to make
246 Christmas in Legend and Story
happy those which He sent in my way, — poor
little wanderers as well as onr own friends at
home. ' '
The Child drew yet closer and sat down in
the snow beside Pierre. His beautiful eyes
shone like stars, and his voice was like sweet
music. '' What,'' he said, '' you are the boy
who stood in the doorway with a pan of bread
and milk, — part of your own supper, — and
called the hungry kitten to feast? You are the
same who tossed a bone to the limping dog and
made him a bed in the stable! You stroked
the noses of the ox and the ass and said gentle
things to them, because they were the first
friends of the little Jesus'? You set the sheaf
of wheat for the snowbirds, and they lighted
upon your hands and shoulders and kissed your
lips in gratitude? You are that boy, friend of
God's friends. No wonder that my white dove
flew to you out of the storm. She knew, she
The Child bent near and kissed Pierre on
the cheeks, so that they grew rosy, and the
warm blood went tingling through his little
cold limbs. Sitting up, he said: ^* Yes, I am
that boy who last year was so happy because
The^ Little Friend 2A1
he could do these pleasant things. But how do
you know, little Stranger! How did you see? ''
** Oh, I know, I saw! '^ cried the Child, glee-
fully clapping his hands as a child will. '' I
was there. I passed through the village last
Christmas Eve, and I saw it all. But tell me
now, how do you come here, dear boy! Why
are you not in that happy home this stormy
night, once more making the Lord's creatures
Pierre told all to the Child: how his dear
father and mother had died and left him alone
in the world ; how the home had been sold, and
now he lived in the charity school kept by the
good Abbe; how he had learned of the chance
to earn a few pennies by singing on Christmas
Day in the neighboring village church, which
lacked a voice among the choir-boys; how he
was on his way thither when the storm had
hidden the road, and he had grown so cold, so
** Then your dove came to me, little Stran-
ger,'' Pierre concluded. ^* She came, and I
folded her in my jacket to keep her warm.
But, do you know, it must be that she has kept
me warm. Although I could walk no further,
248 Christmas in Legend and Story
I am not cold at all, nor frightened, and no
longer hungry. Sit close to me, little Stranger.
Yon shall share my jacket, too, and we will all
three warm one another.''
The Child laughed again, a low, soft, silvery
laugh, like a happy brook slipping over the peb-
bles. *^ I am not cold," he said. ** I cannot
stay with you. I must go yonder." And he
pointed through the snow.
** Whither, oh, whither? " cried Pierre ea-
gerly. ** Let me go with you. I am lost; but
if you know the way we can go together, hand
The Child shook his head. ** Not so," he
said. * * I do not follow the path, and your feet
would stumble. I shall find a way without sink-
ing in the snow. I must go alone. But there
is a better way for you. I leave my dove with
you : she will keep you warm until help comes.
Farewell, friend of the Lord's friends."
Stooping the Child kissed Pierre once more,
upon the forehead. Then, before the boy saw
how he went, he had vanished from the little
nest of snow, without leaving a footprint be-
Now the dove, clasped close to Pierre 's heart,
The^ Utile Friend 249
seemed, to warm him like a little fire within;
and the Child's kiss on his forehead made him
so happy, but withal so drowsy, that he smiled
as he closed his eyes once more repeating,
* * * Until help comes. ' ' There is a better way '
On the side of the mountain, away from the
village street, perched the little hut of Grand-
father Viaud. And here, on Christmas Eve,
sat the old man and his wife, looking very sad
and lonely. For there was no sound of child-
ish laughter in the little hut, no patter of small
feet, no whispering of Christmas secrets. The
little Viands had long since grown up and flown
away to build nests of their own in far-off
countries. Poor Josef Viaud and old Bettine
were quite alone this Christmas Eve, save for
the Saint Bernard who was stretched out be-
fore the fire, covering half the floor with his
huge bulk, like a furry rug. He was the very
Prince of dogs, as his name betokened, and he
was very good to Grandfather and Grand-
mother, who loved him dearly. But on Christ-
25D Christmas in Legend and Story
mas Eve even the littlest cottage, crowded with
the biggest tenants, seems lonely unless there
are children in the corners.
The Viands sat silently gazing into the fire,
with scarcely a word for each other, scarcely a
caress for faithful Prince. Indeed, the great
dog himself seemed to know that something
was lacking, and every once in a while would
lift his head and whine wistfully.
In each of the two small windows burned a
row of candles, flickering in the draught that
blew down the great chimney and swept
through the little chamber. And these, with
the crackling blaze upon the hearth, sent queer
shadows quivering up the smoky walls.
Grandfather Viand looked over his shoulder
as a great gust blew the ashes into the room.
** Hey! '' he cried. *^ I almost fancied the
shadow of one looking in at the window. Ha,
ha! What foolishness! Eh! but it is a fear-
some storm. Pray the good Lord that there
may be no poor creatures wandering on the
mountain this night."
*^ The Lord's birthday, too! " said Grand-
mother Bettine. ^^ The dear little Child has a
cold way to come. Even He might become con-
The. Little Friend 251
fused and be driven to wander by such a whirl
of snow. I am glad that we set the tapers
there, Josef, even though we be so far from the
village street down which they say He passes.
How pleasant to think that one might give light
to His blessed feet if they were wandering from
the way, — the dear little Child ^s feet, so rosy
and soft and tender! '^ And good Grand-
mother Viaud dropped a tear upon her knit-
ting; for she remembered many such little feet
that had once pattered about the cottage floor.
Prince lifted his head and seemed to listen,
then whined as he had done before.
** You are lonely, old fellow, are you not? ''
quavered old Josef. '* You are waiting for the
children to come back and make it merry, as it
used to be in the old days when you were a pup.
Heigho! Those were pleasant days, but they
will never come again. Prince. We are all
growing old, we three together.''
** Ah, peace, Josef, peace! '' cried old Bet-
tine, wiping her eyes again. ** It is lonely
enough and sad enough, God knows, without
speaking of it. What use to sigh for that
which cannot be? If the good Lord wished us
to have a comforter in our old age, doubtless
252 Christmas in Legend and Story
He would send us one. He knows how we have
longed and prayed that a child's feet might
echo through our house once more: how we
have hoped from year to year that one of the
grandchildren might return to bless us with
his little presence. ' ' At this moment Prince
jumped to his feet with a low bark, and stood
trembling, with pointed ears.
** What dost thou hear, old dog? '' asked
the Grandfather carelessly. ^^ There is naught
human abroad this night, I warrant you. All
wise folk are hugging the fire like us. Only
those bad spirits of Christmas Eve are howling
about for mischief, they say. Best keep away
from the door, old Prince, lest they nip your
toes or bite your nose for spite.''
'' Hush! " cried the Grandmother, laying
her hand upon his arm. ^^ You forget: there
is the Other One abroad. It may be that
She was interrupted by Prince, who ran
eagerly to the door and began snifi&ng at the
latch in great excitement. Then he gave a
long, low howl. At the same moment the latch
rattled, and the Viands distinctly heard a little
voice cry, ** Open, open, good people! "
The, Little Friend 253
The old couple looked at each other; the
cheeks of one flushed, and the other's paled.
At the same moment they rose stiffly from
their chairs by the fire. But Grandmother
Bettine was first at the door. She lifted the
latch, the door blew open violently, and with
a loud bark Prince dashed out into the storm.
" What is it? Who is there! '' cried Josef
Viaud, peering over his wife's shoulder. But
no one answered save the rough storm, which
fiercely blew into the faces of the old couple,
whirling and screaming about their heads.
* * H 'm ! It was only a fancy, ' ' muttered the
old man. '' Come in, Mother. Come, Prince! "
and he whistled out into the storm. But the
wind whistled too, drowning his voice, and
Prince did not return. * * He is gone ! ' ' cried
Josef impatiently. *^ It is some evil spirit's
work. ' '
* * Nay, Father ! ' ' and, as she spoke, the door
banged violently in Josef's face, as if to em-
phasize the good wife's rebuke. ** It was a
little child; I heard it," insisted Bettine, as
they staggered back to the fire and sank
weakly into their chairs. *' Perhaps it was the
Holy Child Himself, who knows? But why
254 Christmas in Legend and Story
would He not enter? Why, Josef? Oh, I
fear we were not good enough! "
** I only know that we have perhaps lost our
good dog. Why did you open the door, Bet-
tine? " grumbled Josef sleepily.
a Prince is not lost. For what was he bred
a snow-dog upon the mountains if a storm like
this be danger to him? He is of the race that
rescues, that finds and is never lost. Mayhap
the Holy Child had work for him this night.
Ah, the Little One! If I could but have seen
Him for one moment! " And good Bettine's
head nodded drowsily on her chair-back.
Presently the old couple were fast asleep.
Now when they had been dreaming strange
things for some time, there came a scratching
at the door, and a loud bark which woke them
'* What was that? '' exclaimed Grandfather,
starting nervously. * ^ Ho, Prince ! Are you
without there? '' and he ran to the door, while
Grandmother was still rubbing from her eyes
the happy dream which had made them moist,
— the dream of a rosy, radiant Child who was
to be the care and comfort of a lonely cottage.
And then, before she had fairly wakened from
The Little Friend 255
the dream, Prince bounded into the room and
laid before the fire at her feet a soft, snow-
wrapped bundle, from which hung a pale little
face with golden hair.
^^ It is the Child of my dream! '' cried
Bettine. '^ The Holy One has come back to
** Nay, this is no dream-child, mother. This
is a little human fellow, nearly frozen to
death,'' exclaimed Josef Viaud, pulling the
bundle toward the fire. '' Come, Bettine, let
us take off his snow-stiff clothes and get some
little garments from the chests yonder. I will
give him a draught of something warm, and
rub the life into his poor little hands and feet.
We have both been dreaming, it seems. But
certainly this is no dream! "
** Look! The dove! " cried Grandmother,
taking the bird from the child's bosom, where
it still nestled, warm and warming. ^ * Josef !
I believe it is indeed the Holy Child Himself,"
she whispered. ** He bears a dove in his
bosom, like the image in the Church." But
even as she spoke the dove fluttered in her fin-
gers, then, with a gentle '' Coo-roo! " whirled
once about the little chamber and darted out
256 Christmas in Legend and Story
at the door, which they had forgotten quite to
close. With that the child opened his eyes.
* * The dove is gone ! ' ' he cried. * ^ Yet I am
warm. Why — has the little Stranger come
once more? ^' Then he saw the kind old faces
bent over him, and felt Prince's warm kisses
on his hands and cheeks, with the fire flicker-
ing pleasantly beyond.
* * It is like coming home again ! " he mur-
mured, and with his head on Bettine's shoul-
der dropped comfortably to sleep.
On the morrow all the village went to see
the image of the Christ Child lying in a man-
ger near the high altar of the church. It was
a sweet little Child in a white shirt, clasping
in his hands a dove. They believed him to
have come in the stormy night down the village
street. And they were glad that their pious
candles in the windows had guided Him safely
on the road. But little Pierre, while he sang
in the choir, and his adopted parents, the
Viands, kneeling happily below, had sweet
thoughts of a dream which had brought them
Who knows but that Prince at home happily
The Holy Night.
From Painting by Feuerstein-
The. Utile Friend 257
guarding Pierre ^s snow-wet old shoes — who
knows but that Prince was dreaming the hap-
piest dream of all? For only Prince knew how
and where and under what guidance he had
found the little friend of the Lord's friends
sleeping in the snow, with but a white dove in
his bosoni to keep him from becoming a boy
WHEEE LOVE IS, THERE GOD IS ALSO
Count Lyof N. Tolsto'i*
In a certain city dwelt Martin Avdyeeich,
the cobbler. He lived in a cellar, a wretched
little hole with a single window. The window
looked up towards the street, and through it
Martin could just see the passers-by. It is
true that he could see little more than their
boots, but Martin Avdyeeich could read a
man's character by his boots, so he needed no
more. Martin Avdyeeich had lived long in
that one place, and had many acquaintances.
Few indeed were the boots in that neighbor-
hood which had not passed through his hands
at some time or other. On some he would
fasten new soles, to others he would give side-
pieces, others again he would stitch all round,
and even give them new uppers if need be.
And often he saw his own handiwork through
the window. There was always lots of work
for him, for Avdyeeich 's hand was cunning
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 259
and his leather good; nor did he overcharge,
and he always kept his word. He always en-
gaged to do a job by a fixed time if he could;
but if he could not, he said so at once, and
deceived no man. So every one knew Avdye-
eich, and he had no lack of work. Avdyeeich
had always been a pretty good man, but as he
grew old he began to think more about his soul,
and draw nearer to his God. While Martin
was still a journeyman his wife had died; but
his wife had left him a little boy — three years
old. Their other children had not lived. All
the eldest had died early. Martin wished at
first to send his little child into the country to
his sister, but afterwards he thought better of
it. ** My Kapitoshka,'' thought he, *^ will feel
miserable in a strange household. He shall
stay here with me. ' ^ And so Avdyeeich left his
master, and took to living in lodgings alone
with his little son. But God did not give
Avdyeeich happiness in his children. No
sooner had the little one begun to grow up and
be a help and a joy to his father's heart, than
a sickness fell upon Kapitoshka, the little one
took to his bed, lay there in a raging fever for
a week, and then died. Martin buried his son
260 Christmas in Legend and Story
in despair — so desperate was he that he be-
gan to murmur against God. Such disgust of
life overcame him that he more than once
begged God that he might die; and he re-
proached God for taking not him, an old man,
but his darling, his only son, instead. And
after that Avdyeeich left off going to church.
And lo! one day, there came to Avdyeeich
from the Troitsa Monastery, an aged peasant-
pilgrim — it was already the eighth year of his
pilgrimage. Avdyeeich fell a-talking with him
and began to complain of his great sorrow.
** As for living any longer, thou man of God,'*
said he, ** I desire it not. Would only that I
might die! That is my sole prayer to God.
I am now a man who has no hope.''
And the old man said to him : * * Thy speech,
Martin, is not good. How shall we judge the
doings of God? God's judgments are not our
thoughts. God willed that thy son shouldst die,
but that thou shouldst live. Therefore 'twas
the best thing both for him and for thee. It is
because thou wouldst fain have lived for thy
own delight that thou dost now despair."
^' But what then is a man to live for? "
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 261
And the old man answered : * ^ For God,
Martin! He gave thee life, and for Him
therefore must thou live. When thou dost
begin to live for Him, thou wilt grieve about
nothing more, and all things will come easy to
Martin was silent for a moment, and then he
said: ^' And how must one live for God! ''
*^ Christ hath shown us the way. Thou
knowest thy letters. Buy the Gospels and
read; there thou wilt find out how to live for
God. There everything is explained."
These words made the heart of Avdyeeich
burn within him, and he went the same day
and bought for himself a New Testament
printed in very large type, and began to read,
Avdyeeich set out with the determination to
read it only on holidays; but as he read, it
did his heart so much good that he took to
reading it every day. And the second time he
read until all the kerosene in the lamp had
burnt itself out, and for all that he could not
tear himself away from the book. And so it
was every evening. And the more he read, the
more clearly he understood what God wanted
of him, and how it behooved him to live for
262 Christmas in Legend and Story
God; and his heart grew lighter and lighter
continually. Formerly, whenever he lay down
to sleep he would only sigh and groan, and
think of nothing but Kapitoshka, but now he
would only say to himself: '' Glory to Thee!
Glory to Thee, Lord ! Thy will be done ! ' '
Henceforth the whole life of Avdyeeich was
changed. Formerly, whenever he had a holi-
day, he would go to the tavern to drink tea,
nor would he say no to a drop of brandy now
and again. He would tipple with his comrades,
and though not actually drunk, would, for all
that, leave the inn a bit merry, babbling non-
sense and talking loudly and censoriously. He
had done with all that now. His life became
quiet and joyful. With the morning light he
sat down to his work, worked out his time, then
took down his lamp from the hook, placed it
on the table, took down his book from the
shelf, bent over it, and sat him down to read.
And the more he read the more he understood,
and his heart grew brighter and happier.
It happened once that Martin was up read-
ing till very late. He was reading St. Luke's
Gospel. He was reading the sixth chapter,
and as he read he came to the words : ' * And
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 263
to him that smiteth thee on the one cheek,
offer also the other/' This passage he read
several times, and presently he came to that
place where the Lord says : * ^ And why call ye
me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which
I say? Whosoever cometh to Me, and heareth
My sayings, and doeth them, I will show you
to whom he is like. He is like a man which
built an house, and dug deep, and laid the
foundations on a rock. And when the flood
arose, the storm beat vehemently upon that
house, and could not shake it, for it was
founded upon a rock. But he that heareth,
and doeth not, is like a man that without a
foundation built an house upon the earth,
against which the stream did beat vehemently,
and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that
house was great."
Avdyeeich read these words through and
through, and his heart was glad. He took off
his glasses, laid them on the book, rested his
elbow on the table, and fell a-thinking. And
he began to measure his own life by these
words. And he thought to himself, *' Is my
house built on the rock or on the sand? How
<?ood to be as on a rock ! How easy it all seems
264 Christmas in Legend and Story
to thee sitting alone here. It seems as if thou
wert doing God's will to the full, and so thou
takest no heed and fallest away again. And
yet thou wouldst go on striving, for so it is
good for thee. Lord, help me! *' Thus
thought he, and would have laid him down, but
it was a grief to tear himself away from the
book. And so he began reading the seventh
chapter. He read all about the Centurion, he
read all about the Widow's Son, he read all
about the answer to the disciples of St. John;
and so he came to that place where the rich
Pharisee invites our Lord to be his guest.
And he read all about how the woman who
was a sinner anointed His feet and washed
them with her tears, and how He justified her.
And so he came at last to the forty-fourth
verse, and there he read these words, ^* And
He turned to the woman and said to Simon,
Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine
house, thou gavest Me no water for My feet;
but she has washed My feet with tears and
wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou
gavest Me no kiss, but this woman, since the
time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss My feet.
Mine head with oil thou didst not anoint.''
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 265
And again Avdyeeich took off his glasses, and
laid them on the book, and fell a-thinking.
*^ So it is quite plain that I too have some-
thing of the Pharisee about me. Am I not
always thinking of myself? Am I not always
thinking of drinking tea, and keeping myself
as warm and cozy as possible, without thinking
at all about the guest? Simon thought about
himself, but did not give the slightest thought
to his guest. But who was the guest? The
Lord Himself. And suppose He were to come
to me, should I treat Him as the Pharisee
And Avdyeeich leaned both his elbows on the
table and, without perceiving it, fell a-dozing.
* * Martin ! ' ' — it was as though the voice of
some one close to his ear.
Martin started up from his nap. ^* Who's
He turned round, he gazed at the door, but
there Was no one. Again he dozed off. Sud-
denly he heard quite plainly, '* Martin, Mar-
tin, I say! Look to-morrow into the street. I
Martin awoke, rose from his chair, and be-
gan to rub his eyes. And he did not know him-
266 Christmas in Legend and Story
self whether he had heard these words asleep
or awake. He turned down the lamp and laid
him down to rest.
At dawn next day, Avdyeeich arose, prayed
to God, lit his stove, got ready his gruel and
cabbage soup, filled his samovar, put on his
apron, and sat him down by his window to
work. There Avdyeeich sits and works, and
thinks of nothing but the things of yesternight.
His thoughts were divided. He thought at one
time that he must have gone off dozing, and
then again he thought he really must have
heard that voice. It might have been so,
Martin sits at the window and looks as much
at his window as at his work, and whenever
a strange pair of boots passes by he bends
forward and looks out of the window, so as
to see the face as well as the feet of the
passers-by. The house porter passed by in
new felt boots, the water-carrier passed by,
and after that there passed close to the win-
dow an old soldier, one of Nicholas's veterans,
in tattered old boots, with a shovel in his
hands. Avdyeeich knew him by his boots.
The old fellow was called Stepanuich, and
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 267
lived with the neighboring shopkeeper, who
harbored him of his charity. His duty was to
help the porter. Stepanuich stopped before
Avdyeeich's window to sweep away the snow.
Avdyeeich cast a glance at him, and then went
on working as before.
'^ I'm not growing sager as I grow older,"
thought Avdyeeich, with some self-contempt.
*^ I make up my mind that Christ is coming to
me, and lo ! 'tis only Stepanuich clearing away
the snow. Thou simpleton, thou! thou art
wool-gathering! '' Then Avdyeeich made ten
more stitches, and then he stretched his head
once more towards the window. He looked
through the window again, and there he saw
that Stepanuich had placed the shovel against
the wall, and was warming himself and taking
breath a bit.
^^ The old man is very much broken,"
thought Avdyeeich to himself. ** It is quite
plain that he has scarcely strength enough to
scrape away the snow. Suppose I make him
drink a little tea ! the samovar, too, is just on
the boil." Avdyeeich put down his awl, got
up, placed the samovar on the table, put some
tea in it, and tapped on the window with his
268 Christmas in Legend and Story
fingers. Stepanuich turned round and came to
the window. Avdyeeich beckoned to Mm, and
then went and opened the door.
** Come in and warm yourself a bit," cried
he. '' You're a bit chilled, eh? "
^* Christ requite you! Yes, and all my bones
ache too," said Stepanuich. Stepanuich came
in, shook off the snow, and began to wipe his
feet so as not to soil the floor, but he tottered
** Don't trouble about wiping your feet. I'll
rub it off myself. It's all in the day's work.
Come in and sit down," said Avdyeeich.
^' Here, take a cup of tea."
And Avdyeeich filled two cups, and gave one
to his guest, and he poured his own tea out into
the saucer and began to blow it.
Stepanuich drank his cup, turned it upside
down, put a gnawed crust on the top of it, and
said, ^^ Thank you." But it was quite plain
that he wanted to be asked to have some more.
** Have a drop more. Do! " said Avdyeeich,
and poured out fresh cups for his guest and
himself, and as Avdyeeich drank his cup, he
could not help glancing at the window from
time to time.
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 269
*^ Dost thou expect any one? '^ asked his
** Do I expect any one? Well, honestly, I
hardly know. I am expecting and I am not
expecting, and there's a word which has burnt
itself right into my heart. Whether it was a
vision or no, I know not. Look now, my
brother! I was reading yesterday about our
little Father Christ, how He suffered, how He
came on earth. Hast thou heard of Him, eh? '*
** I have heard, I have heard,'' replied
Stepanuich, ^* but we poor ignorant ones know
not our letters."
** Anyhow, I was reading about this very
thing — how He came down upon earth. I was
reading how He went to the Pharisee, and how
the Pharisee did not meet Him half-way. That
was what I was reading about yesternight,
little brother mine. I read that very thing,
and bethought me how the Honorable did not
receive our little Father Christ honorably.
But suppose, I thought, if He came to one like
me — would I receive Him? Simon at any
rate did not receive Him at all. Thus I
thought, and so thinking, fell asleep. I fell
asleep, I say, little brother mine, and I heard
270 Christmas in Legend and Story
my name called. I started up. A voice was
whispering at my very ear. * Look out to-
morrow! ' it said, * I am coming.' And so it
befell twice. Now look! wouldst thou believe
it? the idea stuck to me — I scold myself for
my folly, and yet I look for Him, our little
Father Christ! "
Stepanuich shook his head and said nothing,
but he drank his cup dry and put it aside.
Then Avdyeeich took up the cup and filled it
*^ Drink Some more. 'Twill do thee good.
Now it seems to me that when our little Father
went about on earth. He despised no one, but
sought unto the simple folk most of all. He
was always among the simple folk. Those dis-
ciples of His too, He chose most of them from
amongst our brother-laborers, sinners like unto
us. He that exalteth himself. He says, shall
be abased, and he that abaseth himself shall
be exalted. Ye, says He, call me Lord, and I,
says He, wash your feet. He who would be the
first among you, He says, let him become the
servant of all. And therefore it is that He
says. Blessed are the lowly, the peacemakers,
the humble, and the long-suffering.''
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 271
Stepanuicli forgot his tea. He was an old
man, soft-hearted, and tearful. He sat and
listened, and the tears rolled down his cheeks.
*^ Come, drink a little more,** said Avdye-
eich. But Stepanuich crossed himself, ex-
pressed his thanks, pushed away his cup, and
^* I thank thee, Martin Avdyeeich. I have
fared well at thy hands, and thou hast re-
freshed me both in body and soul. * *
** Thou wilt show me a kindness by coming
again. I am so glad to have a guest,*' said
Avdyeeich. Stepanuich departed, and Martin
poured out the last drop of tea, drank it,
washed up, and again sat down by the window
to work — he had some back-stitching to do.
He stitched and stitched, and now and then cast
glances at the window — he was looking for
Christ, and could think of nothing but Him
and His works. And the divers sayings of
Christ were in his head all the time.
Two soldiers passed by, one in regimental
boots, the other in boots of his own making;
after that, the owner of the next house passed
by in nicely brushed goloshes. A baker with
a basket also passed by. All these passed by
272 Christmas in Legend and Story
in turn, and then there came alongside the win-
dow a woman in worsted stockings and rustic
shoes, and as she was passing by she stopped
short in front of the partition wall. Avdyeeich
looked up at her from his window, and he saw
that the woman was a stranger and poorly clad,
and that she had a little child with her. She
was leaning up against the wall with her back
to the wind, and tried to wrap the child up, but
she had nothing to wrap it up with. The
woman wore summer clothes, and thin enough
they were. And from out of his corner Avdye-
eich heard the child crying and the woman try-
ing to comfort it, but she could not. Then
Avdyeeich got up, went out of the door and on
to the steps, and cried, ^ ' My good woman ! My
good woman! '*
The woman heard him and turned round.
<< Why dost thou stand out in the cold there
with the child? Come inside! In the warm
room thou wilt be better able to tend him. This
The woman was amazed. What she saw was
an old fellow in an apron and with glasses on
his nose calling to her. She came towards him.
They went down the steps together — they
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 273
went into the room. The old man led the
woman to the bed. '' There,'' said he, '' sit
down, gossip, nearer to the stove, and warm
and feed thy little one. . . .''
He went to the table, got some bread and a
dish, opened the oven door, put some cabbage
soup into the dish, took out a pot of gruel, but
it was not quite ready, so he put some cab-
bage soup only into the dish, and placed it
on the table. Then he fetched bread, took
down the cloth from the hook, and spread it
on the table.
^' Sit down and have something to eat, gos-
sip,'' said he, '' and I will sit down a little
with the youngster. I have had children of my
own, and know how to manage them."
The woman crossed herself, sat down at the
table, and began to eat, and Avdyeeich sat
down on the bed with the child. Avdyeeich
smacked his lips at him again and again, but
his lack of teeth made it a clumsy joke at best.
And all the time the child never left off shriek-
ing. Then Avdyeeich hit upon the idea of
shaking his finger at him, so he snapped his
fingers up and down, backwards and forwards,
right in front of the child's mouth. He did not
274 Christmas in Legend and Story
put his finger into its mouth, because his finger
was black and sticky with cobbler's wax. And
the child stared at the finger and was silent,
and presently it began to laugh. And Avdye-
eich was delighted. But the woman went on
eating, and told him who she was and whence
^ * I am a soldier 's wife, ' ' she said : * * my
eight months' husband they drove right away
from me, and nothing has been heard of him
since. I took a cook's place till I became a
mother. They could not keep me and the child.
It is now three months since I have been drift-
ing about without any fixed resting-place. I
have eaten away my all. I wanted to be a wet-
nurse, but people wouldn't have me: * Thou
art too thin,' they said. I have just been to
the merchant's wife where our grandmother
lives, and there they promised to take me in.
I thought it was all right, but she told me to
come again in a week. But she lives a long
way off. I am chilled to death, and he is quite
tired out. But God be praised! our landlady
has compassion on us, and gives us shelter for
Christ's sake. But for that I don't know how
we could live through it all."
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 275
Avdyeeich sighed, and said, '' And have
you no warm clothes? *'
*' Ah, kind friend! this is indeed warm-
clothes time, but yesterday I pawned away my
last shawl for two grivenki/^
The woman went to the bed and took up the
child, but Avdyeeich stood up, went to the wall
cupboard, rummaged about a bit, and then
brought back with him an old jacket.
** Look! ^' said he, ** 'tis a shabby thing,
'tis true, but it will do to wrap up in."
The woman looked at the old jacket, then
she gazed at the old man, and, taking the
jacket, fell a-weeping. Avdyeeich also turned
away, crept under the bed, drew out a
trunk and seemed to be very busy about it,
whereupon he again sat down opposite the
Then the woman said : * * Christ requite thee,
dear little father! It is plain that it was He
who sent me by thy window. When I first came
out it was warm, and now it has turned very
cold. And He it was, little father, who made
thee look out of the window and have compas-
sion on wretched me."
Avdyeeich smiled slightly, and said: ** Yes,
276 Christmas in Legend and Story
He must have done it, for I looked not out of
the window in vain, dear gossip! "
And Avdyeeich told his dream to the sol-
dier 's wife also, and how he had heard a voice
promising that the Lord should come to him
" All things are possible,'' said the woman.
Then she rose up, put on the jacket, wrapped
it round her little one, and then began to curt-
sey and thank Avdyeeich once more.
^' Take this for Christ's sake," said Avdye-
eich, giving her a two-grivenka piece, " and
redeem your shawl. ' ' The woman crossed her-
self, Avdyeeich crossed himself, and then he
led the woman to the door.
The woman went away. Avdyeeich ate up
the remainder of the cabbage soup, washed up,
and again sat down to work. He worked on
and on, but he did not forget the window, and
whenever the window was darkened he imme-
diately looked up to see who was passing.
Acquaintances passed, strangers passed, but
there was no one in particular.
But now Avdyeeich sees how, right in front
of his window, an old woman, a huckster, has
taken her stand. She carries a basket of
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 277
apples. Not many now remained ; she had evi-
dently sold them nearly all. Across her
shoulder she carried a sack full of shavings.
She must have picked them up near some new
building, and was taking them home with her.
It was plain that the sack was straining her
shoulder. She wanted to shift it on to the
other shoulder, so she rested the sack on the
pavement, placed the apple-basket on a small
post, and set about shaking down the shavings
in the sack. Now while she was shaking down
the sack, an urchin in a ragged cap suddenly
turned up, goodness knows from whence,
grabbed at one of the apples in the basket, and
would have made off with it, but the wary old
woman turned quickly round and gripped the
youth by the sleeve. The lad fought and tried
to tear himself loose, but the old woman seized
him with both hands, knocked his hat off, and
tugged hard at his hair. The lad howled, and
the old woman reviled him. Avdyeeich did not
stop to put away his awl, but pitched it on the
floor, rushed into the courtyard, and in his
haste stumbled on the steps and dropped his
glasses. Avdyeeich ran out into the street.
The old woman was tugging at the lad's hair
278 Christmas in Legend and Story
and wanted to drag him off to the police, while
the boy fought and kicked.
** I didn't take it," said he. ** What are you
whacking me for 1 Let me go ! ' '
Avdyeeich came up and tried to part them.
He seized the lad by the arm and said: ** Let
him go, little mother! Forgive him for
Christ's sake! "
*' I'll forgive him so that he shan't forget
the taste of fresh birch-rods. I mean to take
the rascal to the police station."
Avdyeeich began to entreat with the old
** Let him go, little mother; he will not do
so any more. Let him go for Christ's sake."
The old woman let him go. The lad would
have bolted, but Avdyeeich held him fast.
'* Beg the little mother's pardon," said he,
'* and don't do such things any more. I saw
thee take them."
Then the lad began to cry and beg pardon.
** "Well, that's all right! And now, there's
an apple for thee." And Avdyeeich took one
out of the basket and gave it to the boy. ** I'll
pay thee for it, little mother," he said to the
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 279
*' Thou wilt ruin them that way, the black-
guards,'' said the old woman. '^ If I had the
rewarding of him, he should not be able to sit
down for a week.''
'^ Oh, little mother, little mother! " cried
'Avdyeeich, '' that is our way of looking at
things, but it is not God's way. If we ought to
be whipped so for the sake of one apple, what
do we deserve for our sins? "
The old woman was silent.
And Avdyeeich told the old woman about the
parable of the master who forgave his servant
a very great debt, and how that servant imme-
diately went out and caught his fellow-servant
by the throat because he was his debtor. The
old woman listened to the end, and the lad
** God bade us forgive," said Avdyeeich,
^^ otherwise He will not forgive us. We must
forgive every one, especially the thoughtless."
The old woman shook her head and sighed.
** That's all very well," she said, ** but they
are spoiled enough already."
'* Then it is for us old people to teach them
better," said Avdyeeich.
*' So say I," replied the old woman. ** I
280 Christmas in Legend and Story
had seven of tliem at one time, and now I have
but a single daughter left." And the old
woman began telling him where and how she
lived with her daughter, and how many grand-
children she had. ** I'm not what I was," she
said, ^ ^ but I work all I can. I am sorry for my
grandchildren, and good children they are, too.
No one is so glad to see me as they are. Little
Aksyutka will go to none but me. ^ Grandma
dear! darling grandma! ' " and the old
woman was melted to tears. '^ As for him,"
she added, pointing to the lad, ** boys will be
boys, I suppose. Well, God be with him! "
Now just as the old woman was about to
hoist the sack on to her shoulder, the lad
rushed forward and said:
** Give it here, and I'll carry it for thee,
granny! It is all in my way."
The old woman shook her head, but she did
put the sack on the lad's shoulder.
And so they trudged down the street to-
gether side by side. And the old woman for-
got to ask Avdyeeich for the money for the
apple. Avdyeeich kept standing and looking
after them, and heard how they talked to each
other, as they went, about all sorts of things.
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 281
Avdyeeich followed them with his eyes till
they were out of sight, then he turned home-
wards and found his glasses on the steps (they
were not broken), picked up his awl, and sat
down to work again. He worked away for a
little while, but soon he was scarcely able to
distinguish the stitches, and he saw the lamp*^
lighter going round to light the lamps. ** I
see it is time to light up,'' thought he, so he
trimmed his little lamp, lighted it, and again
sat down to work. He finished one boot com-
pletely, turned it round and inspected it.
*^ Good! " he cried. He put away his tools,
swept up the cuttings, removed the brushes
and tips, put away the awl, took down the lamp,
placed it on the table, and took down the Gos-
pels from the shelf. He wanted to find the
passage where he had last evening placed a
strip of morocco leather by way of a marker,
but he lit upon another place. And just as
Avdyeeich opened the Gospel, he recollected
his dream of yesterday evening. And no
sooner did he call it to mind than it seemed to
him as if some persons were moving about and
shuffling with their feet behind him. Avdye-
eich glanced round and saw that somebody
282 Christmas in Legend and Story
was indeed standing in the dark corner — yes,
some one was really there, but who, he could not
exactly make out. Then a voice whispered in
'' Martin! Martin! dost thou not know
" Who art thou! *' cried Avdyeeich,
'' 'Tis I,'' cried the voice, '^ lo, 'tis I!"
And forth from the dark corner stepped Ste-
panuich. He smiled, and it was as though a
little cloud were breaking, and he was gone.
** It is I! '^ cried the voice, and forth from
the corner stepped a woman with a little child ;
and the woman smiled and the child laughed,
and they also disappeared.
*^ And it is I! '* cried the voice, and the old
woman and the lad with the apple stepped
forth, and both of them smiled, and they also
And the heart of Avdyeeich was glad. He
crossed himself, put on his glasses, and began
to read the Gospels at the place where he had
opened them. And at the top of the page he
read these words: '^ And I was an hungered
and thirsty, and ye gave Me to drink. I was
a stranger and ye took Me in.*'
Where Love Is, There God Is Also 283
And at the bottom of the page he read this:
^* Inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of
these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.'*
And Avdyeeich understood that his dream
had not deceived him, and that the Saviour had
really come to him that day, and he had really